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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Nic steals from his family, including his younger brother, lies, and even decides at one point to become a drug dealer. He also has been a male prostitute in order to support his habit. He also works hard to stop the cycle of addiction.
Violence & Scariness
Nic and other addicts threaten violence when a customer underpays for his drugs (they go to his door with a knife and screwdriver). Nic also describes his girlfriend's overdose and also his own horrific arm infection that almost leads to amputation.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Nic graphically describes the sex he has with his girlfriends.
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Lots of mature talk. Readers will find all the biggies here.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Nic shoots meth and heroin, drinks, smokes crack, and does an assortment of other substances.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a very mature book: Nic shoots meth and heroin, drinks, smokes crack, and does an assortment of other substances. To support his drug habit, he tries dealing (in the past he's also been a hustler). Nic is honest about the toll drugs are having on his body -- also, he talks about his girlfriend's heroin overdose and saving her life with CPR. There are intense sex scenes in the book, as well as a series of disturbing characters (including an addict whose girlfriend nearly killed him by shooting him in the head, and a drug client who Nic catches in the middle of a bondage sex act).
Is It Any Good?
The writing is both raw and gripping. Readers will certainly get a sense of what it means to be an addict through this honest portrayal. And they will find themselves quickly feeling sorry for and frustrated with an increasingly desperate Nic. It's obvious that he has so much potential, but instead keeps choosing a life filled with drugs, dealing, occasional homelessness, creepy people, medical problems and more. Readers may not always relate to Nic's experiences, but they will be swept up in his seemingly endless cycle of addiction and recovery. And they will root for him to break it. In the end, teens will be touched by Nic's honesty -- and they will be exhausted.
Like Ellen Hopkins' popular Crank, this book demonstrates how addiction, especially addiction to meth amphetamine, is thoroughly destructive, not just to the user but to the family as well. Unlike Crank, though, which was written in verse and easy to read despite its grittiness, Sheff's book is thick and seems much more grounded in the adult world: He is 22, on his own, and has many friends who are much older, including the woman he wants to marry. This is ultimately a story about a young man "learning to stand on his own," but there is very little else that marks it for the young adult market.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate