Beneath a Meth Moon
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication: February 2, 2012
Ages: 12 and up (Publisher’s recommendation); 14 and up, in general, but mature 12- and 13-year-olds could enjoy benefit, as well, and parents would be extremely well-served to give this one a read, as well (Atlanta YA Examiner’s recommendation)
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars = Excellent
None of us like to think about it, but meth has a stranglehold on the U.S., and that includes, unfortunately, our teen population—even younger.
“In the U.S., methamphetamine is especially popular among 18- to 26-year-olds,” Family Education states on their website. “Unfortunately, it’s a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. According to the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 10.4 million Americans — some as young as age 12 — have tried meth at least once. NSDUH also reported that, overall, meth use decreased among 8th- and 12th-graders between 2006 and 2007. But meth is still popular in small or non-metropolitan areas, predominately in the Midwest and West.”
Which brings us to 15-year-old Laurel Daneau, displaced after losing her mother and grandmother to Hurricane Katrina, and starting over with her dad and younger brother in a new town. It doesn’t take long for Laurel to begin to make friends, and she even makes the cheerleading squad and starts dating the co-captain of the basketball team. But, her good fortune turns out to be her undoing, when her new boyfriend introduces her to meth, better known to Laurel as “moon.”
It doesn’t take Laurel any time at all to fall into the grips of meth, and she falls hard—so hard that she eventually ends up on the street, no home, broken teeth, and doing whatever it takes to get more moon.
Beneath a Meth Moon is a hard book to read, because it is all so real; it’s easy to imagine this young girl on the street and addicted. Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson doesn’t give anyone any reason to have romantic illusions about what it is like to be an addict; she doesn’t give anyone any idea that they can possibly “just try” meth, or do it “casually;” and she doesn’t let anyone believe that there is an easy path away from addiction.
Woodson does, however, give the reader hope. Hope that they will be able to say “no” if the opportunity to try moon ever comes their way; hope that they will be stronger than peer pressure; hope that they will truly understand why drugs are never the way to make one’s self strong; and hope that, if the reader or someone he/she knows is going down that lightless path now, that there is a way away from the moon and back into the sunlight.
Readers can get their copy of author Jacqueline Woodson’s Beneath a Meth Moon at one of the 950+ bookstores in Georgia. And, parents can learn much more about methamphetamine and teens at Family Education online.