Jacqueline Woodson is one of the most successful writers of young adult lit working today. But her books aren't about vampires or rich girls. The winner of three Newbery Awards, Woodson deals with tough subjects, including teen pregnancy, gender identity, and juvenile crime. Her latest novel, Beneath a Meth Moon, tackles drug addiction.
It's the story of Laurel, a young teenager whose life has been upended by Hurricane Katrina. She's lost her home, her mother, and grandmother. When her grief becomes too intense to bear, she turns to meth and quickly gets addicted.
"Seems that's what I was always doing now – chasing the moon, trying to catch the high, trying to hold on to it. Trying to step deep into it. And disappear."
"I challenge myself to write about what's real and what's important and, to some extent, what impacts a greater good," Woodson tells Kurt Andersen. "And for me the heart of the story is how people live with and through stuff."
Woodson has been drawn to difficult stories from a young age. In 3rd grade, her teacher read the class The Little Match Girl. When the title character died at the end of the story, Woodson remembers feeling devastated, yet also amazed "that I could still get up and go home. And so there was something really powerful about being able to be in the world of this story and then being able to leave it and still be safe. And I remember wanting to do that, wanting to tell those stories."
Bonus Track: Jacqueline Woodson reads from Beneath a Meth Moon
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