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The death of Jayson Porter
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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Jayson Porter's life is miserable. His relationship with his alcoholic mother wavers between abuse and neglect, his father is a downwardly spiraling crack addict, and he literally has to dodge bullets in the projects just to stay alive long enough to escape in the only way he sees possible. He daydreams about throwing himself off his building, and when he finally does, he has a split-second realization on the way to oblivion that no matter how grim, life is too precious to abandon hope. Miraculously, he is given a second chance at life. Adoff, whose verse-novel Jimi & Me won a 2006 Coretta Scott King Award, captures the inner-city voice of drug-strangled poverty from Jayson's point of view, in stark prose that crumbles into haunting blank verse, effectively using both white and black space to convey Jayson's anguished mentality as he crawls ever closer to the edge. This forceful story will appeal to the many readers, some in despair, who will find Jayson a character they can cling to. It's a hard book to read, and even harder to put down.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2008 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

Abuse coupled with the death of a friend drives a teen over the edge and toward a new life. Jayson Porter wonders why he doesn't stand up to the constant abuse of his alcoholic mother. Unfortunately, Bandon, Fla., has few options for an interracial 16-year-old whose skills include avoiding neighborhood thugs, cleaning motor-homes and failing classes. After an unsuccessful suicidal leap lands him in traction, Jayson begins to confront both his inner turmoil and his kidnappers. Adoff's narrative blends verse styling with short chapters, accurately reflecting Jayson's conflicted personality and disjointed home life. Though tragically flawed, the characters are ultimately underdeveloped; Jessie's alcoholism only partly explains her abuse and raises questions as to the authenticity of her anger toward Jayson. Adoff's portrayal of the weakened Jayson and ultimate reunion with Trina creates a saccharine feeling in the second half of the book, which is incongruous with the pervasive despair in the first half. As Jayson comes back to life, readers can't help but wish the turnaround had been more realistic. (Fiction. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Sixteen-year-old Jayson Porter wants to believe things will get better. But the harsh realities of his life never seem to change. Living in the inland-Florida projects with his abusive mother, he tries unsuccessfully to fit in at his predominately white school, while struggling to maintain even a thread of a relationship with his drug-addicted father. As the pressure mounts, there's only one thing Jayson feels he has control over--the choice of whether to live or die. In this powerful, gripping novel, Coretta Scott King Award--winning author Jaime Adoff explores the harsh reality of a teenager's life, giving hope even in the bleakest of hours.
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