Love Is the Drug

Love Is the Drug

Book - 2014 | First edition.
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Emily Bird is an African American high school senior in Washington D.C., member of a privileged medical family, on the verge of college and the edge of the drug culture, and not really sure which way she will go--then one day she wakes up in the hospital with no memory of what happened.
Publisher: New York, NY : Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780545417815
0545417813
Branch Call Number: Y Fic
Characteristics: 335 pages ; 22 cm.

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skyekilaen
Nov 01, 2018

Gripping conspiracy / mystery / high school coming of age novel with an opposites-attract romance subplot, about a young African-America woman from an elite Washington D.C. family. It was written by black woman, and it's narrated brilliantly for audio by Simone Missick who plays Misty Knight on Netflix's Luke Cage. So good that I actually stopped listening to it at about 85% for weeks because I couldn't bear for it to end.

I adore the main character, Emily Bird, and I adore her drug-dealing crush, who goes by the nickname Coffee, and I want to run over the main antagonist with a truck except that I'm so scared of him I would run away. Johnson blends so many strands so beautifully: a mysterious viral outbreak; Emily's relationships with her family, friends, and frenemies; the developing, sometimes contentious relationship she has with Coffee; and Emily's own journey of self-discovery, reinvention, and resistance. Looking back, I can't believe how much stuff is in this book and how neatly it all fits. Gorgeous book, should be far better known.

m
MustInvolveEggs
Sep 24, 2018

Love Is The Drug uses the structure of a thriller to build a raw, thorough character study. Bird doesn’t save the world, but she learns how to claim the world. Watching a girl who’s been taught through social barbs and physical violence to keep her pain locked away starting to live for herself felt just as urgent as charting the course of the pandemic. Johnson captures the contradictions of life on the edge of apocalypse through end-of-the-world dances, breath masks tossed aside, college applications to quarantine zones. With its sharp attention to place, Love Is The Drug couldn’t be set anywhere except DC, but its social commentary feels universal.

b
bogwolf
Jul 07, 2015

Kept me reading - stayed up late one night. That's a good sign. Therefore, let's round up to 3 and a half stars .

Johnson evokes a world of elite African-American DC prep school combined with Corey Doctrow style government conspiracy.

Many characters are well rendered, a few less so. Many plot elements work as we feel fear, and love, and anger along with our protagonist. Pacing is odd, sometimes a bit rushed, or alternately over-detailed.

A better coming-of-age story than thriller.

Still, would recommend for an x-files fan, the truth is out there.

QueenBoadicea Jul 05, 2015

The author has crafted an almost painful story of growing up, of being forced to strip away blindness and ignorance and face up to the horrible truths in one’s life. The protagonist, one Emily Bird, has been striving all her life to be the perfect little girl for her parents, schoolmates, boyfriend and authority itself. The story of how she’s forced to shed her illusions and become her own person is written in such glaring terms it’s almost hard to read; it’s like peeking inside someone’s journal and finding out they’ve got a fatal illness they’re determined to keep from the world.

That being said, the circumstances of Bird’s maturation are almost incidental to her story. There is a menacing authority figure who does little more than threaten, lie and manipulate her. If he’s part of something larger, we almost never see them or the people for whom he’s working. There are no scenes of kidnapping, of torture, rape or brutal men doling out physical intimidation. The pandemic sweeping out of control remains a distant threat, hardly reason enough to panic. The few acquaintances of Bird’s that it strikes usually die off screen, as it were.

Bird could just as easily have been forced to grow up because of any number of other scenarios; it’s just this one—a shadow conspiracy involving a manmade disease and a secret Bird herself can’t remember—is the background of the book. Without the strong character of Bird at its center, the plotline would be a meaningless retread of so many others of its kind involving government schemes and secret agents.

“Love is the Drug” therefore works solely because of the interactions of its people and getting to know them is the engine that drives this novel. Powerful, intense and gripping from start to finish, this book gets under your skin like the drugs heading each chapter.

FindingJane Jul 05, 2015

The author has crafted an almost painful story of growing up, of being forced to strip away blindness and ignorance and face up to the horrible truths in one’s life. The protagonist, one Emily Bird, has been striving all her life to be the perfect little girl for her parents, schoolmates, boyfriend and authority itself. The story of how she’s forced to shed her illusions and become her own person is written in such glaring terms it’s almost hard to read; it’s like peeking inside someone’s journal and finding out they’ve got a fatal illness they’re determined to keep from the world.

That being said, the circumstances of Bird’s maturation are almost incidental to her story. There is a menacing authority figure who does little more than threaten, lie and manipulate her. If he’s part of something larger, we almost never see them or the people for whom he’s working. There are no scenes of kidnapping, of torture, rape or brutal men doling out physical intimidation. The pandemic sweeping out of control remains a distant threat, hardly reason enough to panic. The few acquaintances of Bird’s that it strikes usually die off screen, as it were.

Bird could just as easily have been forced to grow up because of any number of other scenarios; it’s just this one—a shadow conspiracy involving a manmade disease and a secret Bird herself can’t remember—is the background of the book. Without the strong character of Bird at its center, the plotline would be a meaningless retread of so many others of its kind involving government schemes and secret agents.

“Love is the Drug” therefore works solely because of the interactions of its people and getting to know them is the engine that drives this novel. Powerful, intense and gripping from start to finish, this book gets under your skin like the drugs heading each chapter.

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bogwolf
Jul 07, 2015

Part government conspiracy thriller, part coming-of-age story. Set in Washington D.C. in the immediate future. Bird must find the truth and herself.

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