Thicker Than Water

320p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jan. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062324733.
Gr 9 Up—This realistic fiction novel opens with Cecelia (better known as CeCe) getting arrested for killing her brother. As the story unfolds, Cyrus's story of escalating OxyContin abuse and the damage it does to his family in the wake of his mother's death unravels, leaving CeCe to pick up the pieces, trying to hold her family and collegiate aspirations together. After her arrest, CeCe is reluctant to open up to her lawyer and counselor, instead content to dwell in her guilt. A group therapy session outing finally has an effect on CeCe, and she begins to open up, but will it be too late to make a case in her favor? Fiore weaves an incredibly authentic tale of the drama and emotion that surround death and drug abuse. The chapters move back and forth from before CeCe's brother's death to after her arrest. The author provides context early on in each chapter to help readers situate themselves within the time line. This structure allows for information to be given to the teens in an extremely methodical and effective manner, continuously moving the story forward. CeCe, her brother, and her father are dynamic characters, filled with flaws and hope. Sometimes frustrating, sometimes heart-rending, and sometimes hopeful, Fiore's work is great for fans of "unpretty" realistic fiction.
VERDICT A must-have for high school and public libraries, especially where discussions about the prevalence and dangers of prescription medicine abuse are needed.

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