Saturday, July 12, 2014

Review Time: DEATH SPIRAL by Janie Chodosh

by Kaley Whittle

Death Spiral, in and of itself, was an awesome book. I can say, as a fifteen year old girl, that Faith Flores was incredibly relatable, even though we lead such different lives. Mrs. Chodosh captures teenage angst so well, I was entirely convinced that somebody my age had written the book.

Now that we have the mild fangirling aside, let's talk about the book in a more serious manner. Death Spiral, which is narrated by Faith, quickly shows that she is not like most girls. She's the rule-breaking rebel, with very clear ideas on life and love and the world around her. Her mother, however, is just a little bit disconnected. An addict of the highest degree, her mother swears that she is now clean. And Faith believes her. That's not the problem.

The problem is when the cops come to retrieve her mother's body from their apartment, a body that just so happens to look like its owner died of a heroin over-dose.

With suspicious characters and lies swirling around her in a metaphorical tornado of madness, Faith sets out on her own to find out what exactly happened to her mother. With her passion for science and sarcastic comments, who knows what or who she might find. Oh, and don't forget Jesse, her loveable little blonde-haired, blue-eyed, extremely attractive partner in crime:

“I try to see Jesse through my aunt's eyes and imagine what she's thinking with his orange pom-pom ski hat, oversized flannel shirt, unlaced Converses, and torn jeans looking like he just robbed a Goodwill store. But there's something soft about Jesse, too, something honest in his indigo eyes that always seem to be looking behind what you're saying for something deeper.”

Jesse showed up one day in Faith's science class, and the first thing he did was challenge her. He didn't stop when the bell rang either, Jesse would show up at the most in-opportune times and drive Faith insane. But he was smart, as smart as she was, and no matter how she tried, she couldn't keep him out of her life. Much to Faith's annoyance, when Jesse found out about her mom, he signed himself up to help her solve the mystery. She never expected him to actually be of use, because Jesse wasn't just there to look pretty. Jesse was there to help. And kiss her every now and then.

This book stands out in a crowd, just like Faith. Death Spiral takes something nobody would ever think about, the death of another junkie, and turns it into somebody's life. Somebody relatable, somebody you could imagine yourself meeting on the street. There's high school, there's chase scenes, there's things that some might classify as illegal, and there's a romantic undercurrent that just so happens to rock.