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A Plague Year

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A Plague Year

By Edward Bloor

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Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Published In: United States, 19 December 2012
It starts small, with petty thefts of cleaning supplies and Sudafed from the supermarket where Tom works. But the plague picks up speed, tearing through his town with a ferocity and velocity that surprises everyone. By year's end there will be ruined, hollow people on every street corner. Meth will unmake the lives of friends and teachers and parents. It will fill the prisons, and the morgues. Tom has always been focused on getting out of his depressing coal-mining town, on escaping to a college somewhere sunny and far away. But as bits of his childhood erode around him, he finds it's not so easy to let go. When home and family are a lost cause, do you turn your back? Or are some lost causes worth fighting for?

About the Author

EDWARD BLOOR is the author of several acclaimed novels including "Taken, " winner of the Florida Sunshine State Young Reader Award; "London Calling, " a Book Sense 76 Top Ten selection; and "Tangerine, " which was an ALA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults, a "Horn Book" Fanfare Selection, and a "Bulletin" Blue Ribbon Book.


Bloor (London Calling) revisits his days teaching high school English to find parallels between Daniel Defoe's classic about the bubonic plague in 17th-century London and a (real) methamphetamine epidemic in Pennsylvania. In a crackerjack opening, readers meet ninth-grader Tom Coleman outside his father's grocery store when he prevents the robbery of an ATM. Robberies-especially of cleaning supplies and Sudafed-have escalated as Blackwater, a coal-mining town, succumbs to addiction. At school, Tom and his sister, Lilly, attend drug counseling after she gets caught smoking pot. In these sessions, they reconnect with Arthur, a cousin whose family has already suffered the fallout of drug abuse. Bloor's villains-a psychiatrist who specializes in rehab, but is a user himself, and a craven football coach-are cartoonish, but characters closer to Tom have more dimension, especially the Food Giant staff: Tom's father, assistant manager Uno, and Bobby, who has Down syndrome. The plot is message-heavy but goes down easily because Bloor excels at writing vivid scenes. Tom is a thoroughly sympathetic narrator as he grows to realize there is value in "blooming where you are planted." Ages 12-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

It's 2001, and ninth grader Tom Coleman is a good kid. He works at the local grocery store, studies for the PSAT, and dreams of fleeing his small Pennsylvania coal town for a college in sunny Florida. Blackwater is not bad, just dull-at least until the town starts changing. The first harbinger of darkness is the attempted robbery of an ATM at the Food Giant, a crime that Tom helps foil. But thefts, especially of cleaning products and cold medicine, are escalating, and it gradually becomes clear that a methamphetamine epidemic has taken hold. By the end of the year, which is set against the backdrop of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Blackwater will be overrun with meth zombies. Verdict Bloor puts his background as an English teacher to good use as he draws parallels between Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year and the Blackwater drug epidemic. At times the story verges on didactic, but teens will relate to Tom, and there are enough parallels between meth addicts and the living dead to attract fans of the current zombie craze.-Jeanne Bogino, New Lebanon Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 8 Up-Set between September 2001, when Flight 93 crashed outside Somerset, PA, and July 2002, when the Quecreek Mine disaster and rescue took place, this novel follows Tom Coleman, a high school freshman who is watching his impoverished town of Blackwater and its residents fall apart. It has become home to methamphetamine addicts, crime at the supermarket where he works is rising, and the people around him are getting arrested or dying. Realizing that the only folks who will help their community are the members themselves, Tom and other students in the school's drug counseling group decide to take action. Bloor draws comparisons to the movie Night of the Living Dead and Daniel Defoe's A Journal of a Plague Year to show how crystal meth and the cycle of poverty, alcohol, and drug abuse can decimate an area just like zombies or a plague. He does an excellent job of creating this downtrodden locale and the people who live there. While the disastrous effect of drugs is the main plot, Tom's growth from a coward to someone who sticks up for himself and his town is equally compelling.-Erik Carlson, White Plains Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

EAN: 9780375846090
ISBN: 0375846093
Publisher: Ember
Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 2 centimetres (0.27 kg)
Age Range: 10-14 years
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