Saturday, April 7, 2012
Review: Beneath a Meth Moon: an Elegy by Jacqueline Woodson
The full title of this book by Jacqueline Woodson is Beneath a Meth Moon: an Elegy. An elegy is a poem or song written as a lament for a deceased person. Though not written in verse, Beneath a Meth Moon is a beautiful elegy written with very poetic prose.
Lauren, now a high school cheerleader, has her happy childhood in Pass Christian, Mississippi ripped away from her by Hurricane Katrina. She not only loses loved ones, but she is forced to leave her community and her roots. Finally Lauren, her brother, and her father land in Galilee, Iowa. The town's slogan: "Welcome to Galilee where life is a walk on water," is in direct opposition to everything the family has been through in the past year. Here Lauren must make new friends and start over. And she does. She becomes a cheerleader and makes a close friend on the squad. But, in ugly contrast to the new life she is creating for herself, she is introduced to meth by a boy on the basketball team. She says yes the very first time he offers the drug to her. From that moment on all Lauren allows herself to crave is the drug, even when using it starts to destroy her life.
It is astonishing how fast things go down hill for Lauren and how tremendously addictive methamphetamine is. Of course, underneath all the drug use is the sorrow that Lauren feels, but is not acknowledging, for the death of her loved ones and the loss of her childhood. Thus her recovery hinges on her ability to write an elegy, a lament for all she's lost.
As a parent I was struck by how few coping skills Lauren had. Certainly someone told her that drugs were bad and that meth was not to be toyed with. Right? As parents we mustn't take things for granted with our children. Who knows what Lauren's dad told her about drugs before she ever used, but there certainly did not seem to be any red flags that went up when she was offered it the first time. This book would offer a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to read it together and have such a conversation.
This book is very well-done and I bet we will see this one on award book lists at the end of this year.