by Gene Scott
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In rural Tennessee, two motocross-loving teens choose journaling and therapy over potential jail time after their participation in a violent incident. Samantha Walker and Bo Wruck, both eighteen, have so much in common: they’re both adrenaline junkies who see bright, ambitious futures for themselves.
Their stressful family lives and penchants for trouble leave them facing adulthood earlier than they’d like, which only exacerbates their hatred for each other. Alternating journal entries reveal their respective sides of the story. They are filled with observations on the culture of their rural Tennessee town, especially in terms of the recent uptick in drug deaths in their community.
Interspersed throughout the novel are the obituaries of people who have died of overdose. These sections do not much add to the plot, but they do carry extra emotional impact.
Other themes overshadow the book’s opiate addiction awareness aims as they are detailed on the cover. Perhaps the most exceptional aspect of the story is its exploration of the stresses of being a teen. Burgeoning sexuality, peer pressure, and unrelenting hope for a bright future connect characters and themes from chapter to chapter. Tackling the opioid crisis may have been the main goal, but the narrative exemplifies much more.
In narrative sections between journal entries, the story conveys great literary flair. Poetic turns of phrase and apt analogies contribute to both the humor and the profundity of the text. In spite of the violent nature of the subject matter, the writing is genuinely entertaining, even beautiful.
From a review by Aimee Jodoin
November 8, 2017