This coming-of-age debut about a 16-year-old's attempt to get popular by becoming a drug addict is charming, poignant, and engrossing—to a point. I am just another kid in another mall with ripped jeans and doodles on his Converses, says Doug Schaffer, and he's not entirely wrong. Angry with his single mom because she spends all of her time thinking about his pigskin pope football-hero brother who's off in Iraq, and fixated on a girl from the mall where he works, Doug is painfully self-aware that he is a cliché. But through Sloan's on-point writing, Doug comes alive, even if he doesn't come close to achieving his goal of becoming a meth addict, or I will kill myself trying. He runs with the idea long enough, though, to step outside the skin of a high school dork to be turned on to nightclubs, parties, girls, and being thought of as something special. The ending, though, is a disappointment. Once Doug's brother returns, the sharp, uncommon narrative turns as dismissive as any parent who ever wished their kid would just shut up.(June)
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