20 March 2009

Leaving Dirty Jersey : A crystal meth memoir by James Salant

While at first solely intrigued by the title and cover of this book (I am a Jersey girl, and have often come across people with the infamous words "Dirty Jersey" tattoed onto their own skin), I couldn't resist the temptation of Jimmy's world of crystal meth, heroin, sex, lies, cheap motels, love, and survival -- most of which takes place in sunny California. Jimmy soon discovers that the streets of Riverside are a world away from life in upperclass Princeton, New Jersey.

Raised in a supportive, financially stable two-parent home, Jimmy was a smart kid who got into drugs in his teens. Following in his brother's footsteps, he briefly entered a rehab program in Riverside, California after a number of run-ins with the cops and drug possession charges in Jersey. There he met an array of characters with both positive and negative influences, although none responsible for the choices Jimmy made -- or didn't make -- while on his own. After rehab, he stayed in Riverside. He used his newfound independence to sell drugs to make money to buy drugs, from pot to meth to heroin. A psychotic episode finally forced him into reality, just barely enough to decide to get clean. At twenty-three years old, Jimmy tells his all-to-true story about his relationship with drugs, his family, his friends, and his ultimate journey of adventure and survival.

This memoir is recommended for high school and mature readers. For another viewpoint from a young recovered addict try Nic Sheff's Tweak, or No Speed Limit by Frank Owens or Beautiful Boy by David Sheff for further observations and perspective.
Access the BCCLS catalog (
http://www.bccls.org/) or ask a librarian how to place a request on this title.

Reviewed by kate the librarian

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