Monday, August 25, 2008

You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn

Miles and Laura, Laura and Miles…childhood friends more than cousins. They had their own secret words, their own private treehouse, and their own made-up fairytales. Both were blonde and cute, but even at an early age, they couldn’t have been more different. Miles loved to read read read…Laura loved to re-tell fairy tales, but with quite a twist on them.

As they got older, the differences began to appear more often than not. Laura remained beautiful, blonde, smart, thin…Miles wore black, dyed her hair black, painted her nails black, fought against the system and gained weight. Now, the only thing they have in common is meeting every now and then in their private treehouse to soar in the clouds, using prescription drugs.

Now the ultimate has happened – Laura committed suicide using those same prescription drugs. Miles’s world is turned topsy-turvy. Even though they didn’t hang out at school together or share the same friends, Laura was the sun that Miles’s universe revolved around. She covers her emotions and the hurricane building within her with Darvoset, Percodan, Valium. And she continues her regular habit of belittling herself because of her weight as well as becoming a recluse.

The only person she lets into her world is Jamal, her best friend. Everyone loves Jamal in and out of school, and while they give him a hard time about hanging around with “8 Mile,” or Miles, he doesn’t care. He loves Miles’s attitude and her creativity. She loves his “I don’t care what they say about us” attitude and his smooth looks. But things begin to fall apart between them when Bex, Laura’s best friend, turns to Jamal for comfort after the funeral. Suddenly, Miles’s secret love is threatened. She retreats into the garden with her smokes and coke, and again, she covers her emotions with prescription drugs. Then things get really bad…

Rachel Cohn is best known in the YA circle for her books Pop Princess and Gingerbread, and this is a far departure from both. Miles is not a heroine, and she will never see herself as worthy of relationships of any kind. Readers will automatically sense this about her and not really like who she is, but will at the same time be intrigued with her. And that is what makes this such a great YA book. Miles takes the reader on a journey of a person who has the possibility of it all, but chooses to become an addict, never seeing the beauty and intelligence she truly possesses. Readers will get to see these hidden traits in glimpses through the characters involved in her life, but won’t understand the full import of how deep Miles has gotten into her drug culture until the last part of the book. She is redeemed, but there will always be the shadow of a monster called Percodan and a dead girl following her.

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