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Dope sick
Book
2009
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

Pursued by police after a drug deal goes disastrously wrong, 17-year-old Lil J hides out in an abandoned building where he encounters a strange, solitary man named Kelly, who is watching television. Stranger still is what Kelly is watching: scenes from Lil J's past and his prospective future! How can this be? And how to answer the question that Kelly then asks: If you could do it all over again and change something, what would it be? As Lil J ponders his answer, Kelly screens more scenes from the teen's unfortunate life, including his growing heroin habit. Is this a drug-induced hallucination? A ghostly visitation à la Dickens' Scrooge? A metaphysical fantasy? A cautionary tale? All of the above? Wisely, Myers provides no easy answers to these difficult questions, trusting his readers to find their own truths and lessons in Lil J's life. Yes, lessons, for there is definitely a didactic element here. But, happily, Myers' narrative strategy is so inherently dramatic that it captures his readers' attentions and imaginations, inviting not only empathy but also thoughtful discussion.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2008 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

Street life on DVR. After a botched drug deal leaves a cop fighting for his life, Jeremy Dance (aka Lil J) knows that he made some bad decisions. Seeking refuge in an abandoned building, Jeremy runs into Kelly, a mysterious man who has a remote control that allows Jeremy to review his life and change one critical decision. Together they view key moments and discuss what Jeremy did or did not do to end up where he is now. Lil J's blend of street bravado and uncertainty never really comes through effectively, leaving readers with a whining narrator. The supporting characters have vivid page presence, however, in stark contrast to the main character's dull personality. The disjuncture between Jeremy's language when he is reminiscing about his untroubled home situations and his discussion of street life shows genuine character development, but it is not enough to compensate for the thin premise. An ambiguous ending coupled with the fantastical slant further diminish the message. In his most recent urban YA title since Street Love (2007), Myers delivers a solid tale, but misses the nuances. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
<p>The itch starts when things get too heavy for Lil J. Skin popping or stealing pain pills from his mom help him relax. But Lil J's focus is wandering because money is short, and his man Rico knows a way to make some quick cash. It's supposed to be an easy deal, but it isn't so simple when the buyer is an undercover cop.</p> <p>With a gunshot wound to the arm, Rico in jail, and a police officer clinging to life, Lil J is starting to get dope sick. He'd do anything to change the last twenty-four hours, and when he stumbles into an abandoned crack house, it actually might be possible. . . .</p> <p>Walter Dean Myers weaves elements of magical realism into a harrowing story about drug use, violence, alternate perceptions of reality, and second chances.</p>
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