Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dope Sick - by Walter Dean Myers

186 pages

Dope Sick tells the story of a young man named Lil J who has gotten himself into a world of trouble.  How he ended up in an abandoned, rat-infested building with a strange man named Kelly is a long story, and Myers's book shows you glimpses into Lil J's life that show us how he came to be stuck in this run-down place and how he plans to escape from the cops outside...if he escapes at all.

After a drug deal gone bad, Lil J's friend Rico ends up shooting a cop which sends Lil J on the run.  When he runs into Kelly he thinks that man is just some homeless dude, but Kelly turns out to be much more.

Kelly talks to Lil J about his life and throughout the book Kelly takes Lil J back to important moments from his past.  Lil J sees mistakes that he made and Kelly offers him a chance to look back at his life and decide what he should change. 

I liked this book.  Lil J and Kelly live in a rough world of drugs and gangs.  Myers captures the language of the street with these characters and others, but also helps readers and Lil J himself take a good objective look at the life choices Lil J made.  Kelly doesn't push Lil J at all; he just shows him how his life went, and we along with our main character can see things that Lil J did wrong that he could go back and fix.  It's tough to read about some of Lil J's drug use, but it's also good to understand why he felt driven to do such things.  Lil J isn't glad about the decisions he's made, but he alone has the power to change them.  No matter how bad things get, we always have a choice of what to do next.  Hopefully we can move away from bad choices and make better decisions.  What will Lil J do?  End it all?  Try to get better?  Keep on down the same path?  Kelly helps him see the different stories of his life and hopefully he will make the right decision.  Read to find out.

Grade:  B-

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