Saturday, August 20, 2011

Beneath a Meth Moon, Jacqueline Woodson

Sunrise was at 6:12, sunset will be at 8:13. It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The birds are beeping at the feeder, little beep-beeps as the little birds maneuver the rim, and the sky is blue and clear. It's supposed to be in the upper 70's today and right now it's cool and there is just a teensy breeze coming through the open windows.

It's dark when our alarms go off, now, twilight at dawn. The tops of the lilac bushes are turning red, the maple is heavy with helicopter seed pods, the ground is drying out, finally, and we need to water. The berries are ready to be picked and I think I have enough for a couple of jars of jam or one pie.

The photo above is of Dennis' hop plant, Sam, I think (the other one is Dave), and little tiny raspberry sized hops. The trellis they are on is going to be too small next year and we should build one that runs along the west side of the house, above the kitchen windows, and let them run the length. At some point, maybe we'll have enough to make some beer! I like the name Thirsty Barracuda: Beer with a Bite.

I have been reading so much! I'm on an children's book awards committee so I'm reading and re-reading everything from picture books to young adult books and having a great time revisiting a few of my favorites from last year. And discovering, again, just how many really awful things get published. And, no, I can't talk about any of the books, yet. We choose next week!

I've also been reading, like a palate cleanser, anything I want to between the committee books: Beneath a Meth Moon, by Jacqueline Woodson, The Future of Us, by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, The Death Cure, by James Dashner, The Pull of Gravity, by Gae H. Polisner.....

Quick synopses of these will come, but not all at once:

Beneath a Meth Moon: Amazing how big a story this little book holds. Hurricane Katrina leaves Laurel without the two women she needs most, her mom and grandmother, when it rips through the little town of Pass Christian, Mississippi. When she finally finds herself at a place where she is beginning to feel comfortable, with a friend and a position on the cheerleading squad, she is introduced to the "moon" by her boyfriend, the only thing that eases the guilt and the grief she feels. This is the story of what the moon does to a person, a family and a community.

As light as it may be on some aspects of meth addiction (can we talk about the horrors in Nic Sheff's books?), it doesn't stint on how quickly and perniciously the drug insinuates itself into a life. It's not a pretty story, it shouldn't be, and is filled with Laurel's self-loathing, need, scratching, and ugly teeth as she sinks deeper into the wasteland of the drug. It shows how perfect a drug meth is, as it fits those receptors so beautifully, and should be talked about in the same breath as unprotected sex: never let it happen, the after-effects are too dire. It never leaves a body, memory of its effects will continue to lead folk back, once tasted, never refused.

While reading Meth Moon, I kept thinking of science fiction, here you are, walking along, minding your own business, and BOOM! the world blows up, aliens take you away, the earth opens beneath your feet and you disappear. One missed chance to get away, injected with drugs when you weren't looking (an old Robert Silverberg story) and life is never the same. It's not like pot, alcohol, meth is a little like a virus where just housing it can kill you.

Anyway, it is really well-written, as are most of Woodson's books, and should definitely be on all middle and high school reading lists. It's an unassuming volume, and has an attractive cover, so those kids labeled reluctant will be willing to read it. It was something I started and finished in one session, I just had to know what happened to Laurel before I did anything else. Ages 11 and up. (Penguin Books. Available in February 2012. $16.99.)

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