I am devoting this blog to a review by Shelf Awareness of an essential book in the battle against early exposure to opioids which has destroyed so many young lives – our son’s included – in the past 20 years. Please give a copy of this book to every teenager and young adult you know and love.
Journalist Sam Quinones’s lauded 2015 Dreamland was, according to our review, “a comprehensive and empathetic investigation into the Mexican pipeline feeding the United States heartland’s growing appetite for opiates.” This adaptation, pared down for a young adult audience, is a sharp, engrossing work of narrative nonfiction.
Dreamland snares the young reader immediately with the story of Matt Schoonover from Columbus, Ohio, who began using prescription opiate painkillers in high school, became addicted and moved to black tar heroin when the “street OxyContin” became too pricy. A day after returning from three weeks in rehab, at the age of 21, Matt fatally overdosed. Quinones’s account speaks directly to teens about the opiate crisis by placing young people (the “new addicts”) at the center of the narrative. He makes the nationwide problem personal through the experiences of Tyler Campbell and Chris Jacquemain, football teammates who both died of heroin overdoses; Kathy Newman, a cheerleader who became addicted to OxyContin after being convinced by friends to visit a Portsmouth, Ohio, pill mill; and Enrique, from Nayarit in Mexico, who began dealing black tar heroin at the age of 14.
Quinones has skillfully reworked his absorbing work of nonfiction for a teen audience, with the narrative divided into three parts (instead of the original five) grouped together by related content. With this edition, Quinones was able to include up-to-date information, as well as new reporting focusing on affected teens. Photographs, an epilogue, a reading guide and source notes round out this gripping, perceptive book.
(BY: Siân Gaetano, children’s and YA editor, Shelf Awareness.com)