Tripping back blue by Kara Storti
Carolrhoda Lab, 2016. ISBN 9781512403084
(Age: Older teens) Illegal drugs. Family violence. Twins. Being a small scale drug dealer is dangerous but Finn is smart and careful, he enjoys the excitement and he is doing it for a good cause. Finn and his twin sister Faith live in a trailer park in Dammertown. It is their graduation year, a critical time with the chance to escape to college. Faith, who lost an eye in one of their father's drunken rages, is such a good student she has qualified for Harvard but won't be able to afford it even with a scholarship. Finn, who feels responsible for her lost eye, intends saving enough money from dealing drugs to pay for her education. In escalating his drug dealing he increases the risk and stress which he manages with his own increasing use of drugs, mirroring his mother's use of antidepressants and his father's use of alcohol. His escape from it all is birdwatching in the local cemetery where he meets an old lady with a common interest in birds and access to a wonder drug which seems to take the user back to their best memory with a lasting euphoria and no after effects. Better still it is so unknown it is not illegal and Finn comes to an arrangement where he is given access to the drug he calls Indigo in exchange for spending time with the old lady who turns out to be the grandmother of the new girl at school, the daughter of a cop who chases drug dealers. From this point the story focuses on their relationship and Finn's complicated schemes for marketing the new drug, avoiding the big dealers who have become interested in controlling it and acknowledging his own dependence on drugs. The pace picks up and there is an exciting climax at a cabin in the woods and a final grappling with the challenges of the future but it seemed too little too late and I am not sure too many of the older teen readers, who might be drawn to read this novel because of its illicit drug appeal, would stick with the rather drawn out story development to enjoy the exciting but abrupt end. It was a depressingly believable and explicit account of the rationalizing around drug use and the 'live in the now' escapism which replaces ambition.