by Lynn, Tracy

Thyme Gilcrest uses a friend's Ritalin to help her get through crunch time at school and develops a full-blown addiction, becoming the ringleader for a prescription drug trade in her circle of overachieving friends.

Gr. 9-12. In the tradition of Go Ask Alice (1971) and Melvin Burgess' Smack (1998), Lynn (the pen name of author Elizabeth Braswell) offers a cautionary tale of high-school drug abuse. Thyme is barely hanging on to her top-20 academic and social status at elite Ashbury High School. Unable to convince her distant parents that she has ADHD, she swipes a bottle of Ritalin from a friend and, after taking the first pill, realizes a control and focus she has never known. Desperate to retain her newfound abilities, she begins to buy and then sell or trade a laundry list of well-known prescriptions. Gradually, she becomes not just a user but also a popular, life-of-the-party dealer. This is a grim, didactic, recognizable story of high-school pressures, drug abuse, and teen angst, accentuated with not-so-veiled suggestions of a drug-dependent adult population too zoned out to notice its own missing meds and desperate children. Its somewhat strident drug message and only marginally hopeful ending may deter some teen readers. Adults can only hope the book will make a difference. ((Reviewed March 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

A didactic tale draws attention to mixed messages about drugs. Desperate to succeed in school and get into a top-notch college, Thyme swipes a friend's Ritalin. Soon she finds herself dealing stolen prescription drugs, though she rationalizes her behavior as helping the incorrectly diagnosed. Hypocrisy in Thyme's life is rampant: Her parents feed her vitamins and pop illicit Xanax and OxyContin; her peers are medicated by their parents to treat everything from normal adolescent depression to mild aggression, while their zero-tolerance school fights street drugs. Though every character serves an educational point in this heavy-handed story, each is also a well-drawn and interesting character. Subtlety is completely absent; in one climactic scene, Thyme acknowledges her choice as if an author "had carefully defined it in neat writing on the wall, no subtlety or subtext." Yet despite the unrelenting message of this unabashedly moralistic tale, its solid construction will keep the reader's attention. If she trusted her readers a little more, Tracy could have made her point and created a better story, too. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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