Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Residue Years - Book Review

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Champ is THIS CLOSE to graduating from college. He's trying to make a better life for himself and his two younger brothers. Their mother is a recovering crack cocaine addict, so Champ has seen what that life is like. Which is why he's dead set on helping out his brothers and buying a nice house for the family.

But for all of that, he's also THIS CLOSE to losing it all. He's cheating on his girlfriend, he gets his girlfriend pregnant, and he's a crack cocaine dealer. The family had it good once, but it can't seem to break free from its dependency on drugs, whether using or using the money Champ makes off of selling it.

Every chapter alternates between Champ's point of view and the point of view of his mother, Grace, as she enters the world again after drug rehab. The book is a little hard to get through not so much because the actions of the characters are sometimes hard to read about, but because the book is written in the characters' dialect. There are a lot of drug slang words, too. If you're not familiar with the dialect and drug lingo, it might take you awhile to figure out what's going on. I eventually got used to the dialect, but a lot of the drug stuff was over my head.

The blurb on the book's back cover says that this is an autobiographical novel. I'm not sure what parts were personally experienced by the author and what parts are fictionalized for dramatic effect, but kudos to the author for writing about what it was like growing up in Portland in the '90s and showing readers that some people can make it out of the cycle.

The Residue Years is published by Bloomsbury USA and is available to purchase now. I received a free advance review copy at Book Expo America in May.

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