Friday, September 28, 2012

The Death of Jayson Porter

Brace yourself before reading this one. Author Jaime Adoff presents us with a grim look at the life of one teenager living in the projects. Jayson Porter's life doesn't have a bright spot: his neighborhood is dangerous, his mother is a nasty abuser, his father is a homeless crack user, and he has about 137 other worries. His only relief is fantasizing about ending it all, committing suicide by jumping from the balcony of his 18th floor apartment. Actually, the first poem in this novel in verse describes his fall, leaving the reader to await his plunge.

It's a dark journey, and Adoff is unflinching in his descriptions. The Death of Jayson Porter begins with far denser text than I've ever seen in a verse novel before, but towards the end the poems become sparse and simple, a clever choice by Adoff. Fans of Ellen Hopkins (particularly males) will be drawn to this book and the difficulties that Jayson faces.

I was impressed by Adoff's decision to have the male protagonist be abused by his mother. This is an uncommon dynamic in novels about abuse, yet one that frequently occurs in reality. Jayson's emotional response to the beatings is further complicated by the shame he feels as a sixteen-year-old "man" who is afraid of a woman. This aspect of the novel is devastatingly authentic. Yes, the ending wraps up a bit neatly, but I like at least a little hope in my YA novels and know that most readers do, too. 

1 comment:

  1. Whoa, this one sounds like it would be hard to handle. I would definitely need that spark of hope at the end to keep me reading through all the hard stuff. Thanks for sharing! =)

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