by Brent R. Sherrard
James Lorimer & Company Ltd., 2009
$9.95, 139 pp., ages 14+
So, what do you do when you are the 17-year-old son of an alcoholic? You drink a lot, use drugs, smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and become just like the old man. Or do you pull yourself together and try to break the cycle and not waste your life? Jacob has some decisions to make as he looks at the old man lying in the hospital recovering from surgery after a stupid accident that nearly killed him because he was so drunk. Jacob has been angry all his life. Angry that other kids had a great family, had money for sports and school activities. His family barely had enough money for food, but his father always had money for booze. To dull his anger and frustration, Jacob has turned to drugs and alcohol. In order to straighten out his life, Jacob knows he has to quit drinking and using drugs, cut down on the cigarettes, and take over his Dad’s wood cutting job so at least some money comes in. Oh yeah, and get rid of the weed crop he and his best friend, Bobby, are growing in the woods. With the final harvest he and Bobby will have a huge sum of money that Jacob can use to help his family. Jacob’s aunt and cousin, Rufus, turn up for a visit. Rufus helps out in the woods and is cool about the weed crop. Jacob, Bobby and Rufus sit and drink a cold beer together “planning their futures, blissfully unaware that” in a short time one of them would be shot dead and one of them would be a murderer. Jacob really struggles to stay sober. The descriptions of the episodes when Jacob gets wasted are “sobering.” The reader really sees what a waste of a life it is to be addicted to drugs and alcohol. Life presents Jacob with extraordinary circumstances. He has to gather all his inner strength and courage to deal with those circumstances if he wants to have “A life not wasted.”
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s September 2010 issue.