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Dope Sick


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About the Author

Michael L. Printz Award winner and Margaret A. Edwards Award recipient Walter Dean Myers is a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. He is the author of Handbook for Boys; Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam; Monster; Bad Boy: A Memoir; and the Newbery Honor Books, Scorpions and Somewhere in the Darkness. He lives in Jersey City, NJ, with his family. You can visit Walter Dean Myers online at www.walterdeanmyersbooks.com.


Gr 9 Up-Master storyteller and craftsman Walter Dean Myers has combined phenomenal writing, taut pacing, believable characters, street cred, an edge-of-your-seat plot, some urban fantasy, and a twist ending in this irresistible story (HarperTeen/Armistad, 2009), narrated with hypnotic intensity by JD Jackson. Lil J has spent his young life getting deeper and deeper into the drug scene, even though he tells himself he isn't really as messed up as the other guys he runs with. When a tricky drug deal goes bad and an undercover cop is shot, Lil J holes up in a crack house. In this foul-smelling dump, he hears a television. Following the sound, Lil J discovers Kelly, who holds a remote that projects the past and possible future choices on the TV screen. In a surreal, eerily Socratic debate, Kelly challenges Lil J to examine his life, his choices, and his visions of his past, present, and future by asking the question that haunts us all: If you could change something in your life, what would it be? As this compelling, quirky narrative unfolds in a series of flashbacks and possible future scenarios, listeners will be drawn into this provocative urban tale of drugs, despair, and the quest for redemption.-Roxanne Spencer, Western Kentucky University Libraries, Bowling Green Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Seventeen-year-old Lil J is in a pickle when his escalating drug habit puts him in trouble with the law. His flight to what he thinks at first is a crack house may be the ticket to turn his life around, when meets "Kelly," a homeless man who uses a television and a remote control to offer Lil J some visionary wisdom, opening his mind to other possibilities for his immediate future. The subtle magical realism in this story makes for an intriguing read.-Vanessa Morris, The iSchool at Drexel University, Philadelphia Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Using both harsh realism and a dose of the fantastic, Myers (Game) introduces an inner-city teen in the jaws of a crisis: 17-year-old Lil J is holed up in an abandoned building, believed to have shot an undercover cop in a drug bust, while police officers assemble in the street below. As he searches for a way out, Lil J is stopped by Kelly, an eerily calm vagrant who invites him to "cop a squat and check yourself out on the tube." Kelly's TV not only plays scenes from Lil J's life but projects what will happen if he sticks with his current plan: suicide. Shocked, Lil J considers Kelly's question, "If you could take back one thing you did... what would it be?" Aided by Kelly's TV, Lil J revisits pivotal moments and wrestles with his fate. As expected, Myers uses street-style lingo to cover Lil J's sorry history of drug use, jail time, irresponsible fatherhood and his own childhood grief. A didn't-see-that-coming ending wraps up the story on a note of well-earned hope and will leave readers with plenty to think about. Ages 14-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"A didn't-see-that-coming ending wraps up the story on a note of well-earned hope and will leave readers with plenty to think about."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Characters have vivid page presence."--Kirkus Reviews
"Drugs, drive-by shootings, gang warfare, wasted lives--Myers has written about all these subjects with nuanced understanding and a hard-won, qualified sense of hope."--New York Times
"Rich, nuanced. The use of magical realism brings depth and an intriguing strangeness to the sharp-eyed observations of Harlem street life."--School Library Journal (starred review)

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