Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 11/01/2012 Rachel and her beloved older brother, Micah, have always been allies against their controlling, restrictive parents, so Rachel covered for Micah when he first started taking meth. Now that he’s disappeared following an unsuccessful stint at rehab, she follows an elusive email to nearby Ocean Beach in San Diego to search for him, accompanied by Micah’s friend Tyler. As Tyler and Rachel follow a series of dwindling leads (starting with the cryptic email that directed Rachel to Ocean Beach to begin with), they share bittersweet reminiscences of Micah and explore their own connection while delving deeper into the underworld of the drug culture. Arcos paints a complex, honest, devastating portrait of what it means to watch someone you love turn into a stranger; it’s clear that Micah struggled for a long time before he turned to meth, but no single factor is blamed, and Arcos avoids both sensationalism and easy answers. This is Rachel’s story, though, not Micah’s, as she deals with her role as the “perfect” child (itself a lie), her growing connection to Tyler, her inherited family legacy of addiction and mental illness, and her grief and guilt over Micah. The result is an empathetic, highly readable tale that captures the messy dynamics of sibling relationships, the pain and powerlessness of addiction from a loved one’s perspective, and, in an open ending that brilliantly mingles loss and hope, the necessity of letting go. Less didactic and more nuanced than Ellen Hopkins’ Crank, this is a delicately written debut with considerable substance and wide appeal. CG - Copyright 2012 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 10/15/2012 Rachel’s older brother Micah is using crystal meth, and he is lying, stealing, and hurting those who love him in order to feed his addiction. After Micah leaves home without a word, an anonymous e-mail warns Rachel that Micah is in serious trouble. So Rachel teams up with Micah’s fellow band member, handsome bad-boy Tyler, to find her brother. Micah’s disintegration is revealed as strangers tell Rachel exactly what she doesn’t want to hear. Her sad journey is a route traveled by many who have lost a loved one to drug addiction. There is no happy reunion scene to anticipate, no reclaiming one of the most important relationships in her life. But, despite the heartache of the search, Rachel begins to see that her life isn’t destroyed—and that Tyler is surprisingly kind and caring. In addition to the fictional elements, the book deftly incorporates solid information about drug addiction, and teens affected by drug use may see their own experiences reflected in Rachel’s story. Recommend this to readers of Ellen Hopkins’ similarly themed novels in verse. - Copyright 2012 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 12/01/2012 Gr 9 Up—When Rachel's brother begins using crystal meth to fuel his music, she turns a blind eye, hoping the issue will resolve itself. Then Micah disappears, and Rachel is wracked with guilt. Could she have tried harder to help him? An anonymous email tips her off that he is in Ocean Beach and in serious trouble. Teaming up with Micah's former bandmate, Tyler, she sets off to search for her brother. It's soon apparent that this is not only a journey to find Micah, but one that Rachel must take to make peace with herself. At its simplest, this is a story about addiction and its far-reaching impact on the user and those close to him. It is also about love, family, and personal growth. None are new topics to YA literature, but it is how the author approaches them that sets this book apart. Rachel's voice is painfully honest as, more and more, she opens up about her life and how her brother's addiction is affecting her. A budding romance softens the knowledge that the search for Micah might not come to a happy or conclusive ending. A powerful debut.—Alissa J. Bach, Oxford Public Library, MI - Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.