Fifteen-year-old Jamie Bates has a simple strategy for surviving high school: fit in, keep a low profile, and above all, protect his biggest secret--he's gay. But when a classmate discovers the truth, a terrified Jamie does all he can to change who he is. At first, it's easy. Everyone notices when he starts hanging out with Celia Gamez, the richest and most beautiful girl in school. And when he steals an experimental new drug that's supposed to "cure" his attraction to guys, Jamie thinks he's finally going to have a "normal" life.
But as the drug's side effects worsen and his relationship with Celia heats up, Jamie begins to realize that lying and using could shatter the fragile world of deception that he's created-and hurt the people closest to him. (goodreads.com)
LOVE DRUGGED was kind of a sad book to read. Not that it actually made me sad but it was sad to see a boy so uncomfortable with himself that he'd be willing to pop unknown pills and suffer through some horrifying side effects just to be "normal." But I guess it's true, isn't it? Even the author admitted in his blurb at the end, that if given the chance when he was Jamie's age he would have taken Dr. Gamez's wonder pills and see if they helped. The fictional character and the real one can't be the only ones. In a world where being gay is okay only depending on where you live and who's around you, I can see it being double hard for a teenager, who's just trying to fit in, to want to do everything he can to blend in with the crowd. It just hurts to read that Jamie took such drastic measures to do it.
Jamie is a compelling character and I was definitely right there, sitting on his shoulder, begging him to not get involved with those pills. They were ultimately far more hurtful than just having some scary physical effects. Honestly I'm not surprised the story went where it did. When you have people that believe that treating homosexuality is akin to getting rid of allergies, it puts their moral stance firmly into perspective. So when the poo smacked against the rotating device I can't say I was surprised. I'm kind of shocked that Jamie didn't see it coming but really, he was a bit involved in convincing himself that the pills were working.
What I didn't really understand was why Jamie's parents were the way they were; idea people that got good starts and then fell flat on their faces, ending up being, for the most part, fiscal screw-ups that just couldn't get their shit together. I wouldn't be so hung up about it if it weren't such a prominent part of the story. And I'm still unsure as to why. Them being that way ultimately didn't serve a purpose, it didn't hurt or hinder them as characters. But Klise was insistent that they were less than stellar financially and they ended up in this position because they couldn't get it together. Maybe it was a round about way of focusing blame? If they hadn't moved there Jamie would have never come across those drugs? Or maybe it was a means of helping him, that final step. Maybe if they were more stable, Jamie would have felt even greater pressure to be "a man" and wouldn't have found himself. I don't know. I'm still trying to sort it out.
I liked LOVE DRUGGED. It was a strong read that pulled me from one cover to the other. I was always afraid that Jamie would get found out or he'd get outed outside of his control or the situation would just get away from him entirely. The plot was always right there in teetering on the edge of everything collapsing. It did that for most of the story, actually. And as a result it was only a matter of time before it came crumbling down. It's a story about a teenager finding himself, and doing some really drastic things to do it. Sure, it can be just like so many other stories out there. But it's not. It's so much more drastic than that.
Ban Factor: High - A book that deals with homosexuality and acceptance. Whoa! That's way too damaging for such young eyes!
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