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VOYA REVIEW! The Death of Jayson Porter


Opening with a blank-verse poem that wrenches the reader immediately into high school junior Jayson's overwhelming world of parental abuse, poverty, and depression, award-winning Adoff (son of Virginia Hamilton and Arnold Adoff) delivers fully and with a surprising-but credible-upbeat denouement. Jayson recounts, often in the present tense and usually in blank verse, a summer during which his mother continues to beat him, his best friend dies horribly, he falls in love and loses the girl, and he tries to commit suicide. In quick, minimalist strokes, Adoff paints Jayson's public housing home, tense bus rides with posturing street thugs, the posh private school he attends on scholarship, the mind-numbing job he holds at a car dealership, and eventually his treatment-both physical and emotional-at the hospital. Boys will find this book to be true and gripping, but it also needs to be read by others, including youth librarians looking for insight as well as excellent writing. It is a natural for discussion groups, but its powerful authenticity needs no intermediary to speak directly to the Jaysons of our time and their friends. Reviewer: Francisca Goldsmith