Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy. Mar. 2022. 272p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781442451056.
Gr 9 Up–“Good father” does not usually fit the stereotype of a meth dealer, but Poe Duchin is both. He’s a gardener, a chef, and a motorcycle mechanic as well—all skills he’s passed on to his self-sufficient daughter Miri, who both loves and doubts him. She sees his potential for violence. Dogs growl at anyone who ventures down the long driveway to their home in remotest Kentucky, and although Poe taught Miri how to shoot and respect guns, he always keeps a Smith & Wesson 45 tucked under his shirt. The drugs are a secret, he thinks, but she knows—and resolves to leave in a year, when she’s 18. Fen Kingston, a smart new kid from Detroit, falls hard for Miri after their first motorcycle ride together. Their crush interrupts the fantasies of Clay, the 20-year-old son of a drug-addicted mother whom Poe rescued from a miserable childhood. He’s in love with Miri, but works for Poe, unfortunately discovering Miri and Fen together while patrolling the property. Miri in turn hides quite a bit from Fen, but Clay’s downward spiral is what, potentially, could kill them all. This book is a sharply observed page-turner and a departure for Henson, whose previous YA novels concerned the famous thoroughbred horses of her beloved Kentucky, rather than the hidden recesses of its opioid crisis. Main characters are white.
VERDICT A suspenseful story of love and violence set in the backwoods of Kentucky’s methamphetamine trade.

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