Opioid, Indiana

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 24 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

Novel about disadvantage and coming of age

Content warning: drugs, mental illness, suicide

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

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“Opioid, Indiana” by Brian Allen Carr is a novel about 17 year old Riggle who ends up living with his uncle in a rural Indiana town in Trump’s America after his parents have died. When Riggle is accused of having a marijuana vape pen, he is suspended from school for 5 days. Careful to conserve his mobile phone data and avoid his uncle’s wrath, Riggle tries to think of what to do for the week. However, when his uncle’s girlfriend tells him that his uncle is missing, he realises that if they can’t come up with the $800 rent that’s due, they’re going to have nowhere to live. So starts 5 days of Riggle looking for his uncle, finding work, meeting locals and chatting with Remote, a shadow puppet his mother introduced him to who explained how the days of the week got their name.

This is an engrossing book that explores a number of issues that continue to impact disadvantaged rural areas under the leadership of President Donald Trump. Poverty, drug addiction, grief, depression, suicide, lack of job opportunity, lack of housing security, mental illness, gun violence, school shootings and Confederate flags all take their toll on Riggle. However, I found him to be a really warm and interesting character despite the significant amount of hardship he had endured, not least of which was losing both his parents.

Very few books about orphans deal with the trauma of parents dying in a meaningful way, and I felt that Carr’s use of Remote as both a comforting remnant of childhood as well as a lens through which Riggle sees the world as inspired. Other things that his mother taught him, such as making an omelette, end up opening doors for Riggle that he didn’t even know were there. I also thought that Carr introduced an intriguing bit of unreliability into Riggle’s story when he begins to notice people making a particular shape with their hands that looks like Remote, suggesting that Riggle is unconsciously seeking meaning in a world that makes no sense.

There are a lot of themes woven through this book, and one that I think I would have like a little more developed is Riggle’s friendship with Bennet. Bennet, an easygoing biracial character with a loving yet strict mother, draws out an sense of intimacy from Riggle. However, given how important friendships are during times of difficulty, and given the distance from Riggle’s only other friend, I think I would have liked to have seen this friendship developed a little more.

A well-constructed and unique novel, I’m surprised it hasn’t received more acclaim.
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Opioid, Indiana is a really intriguing, quick little read. The most enjoyable part for me personally was the fact that it was set out into each day of the week. I really enjoyed reading each day as it happened and there not being any huge jumps forward in time, it meant the reader saw everything the main character was going through and in my opinion made the story more real. 

I found the main character, Riggle, quite relatable in the language he used and he was actually quite lovable. His story is interspersed with little fairy-tale-like stories of how the days of the week got their names. I really enjoyed these little stories before each new day began for Riggle and I feel they really added something special to the book. 

I gave this book a rating of three stars because although it was very good in the ways I’ve mentioned, it was quite a quick read and I felt I would’ve liked to read more about Riggle’s life after the week was finished. If the book was longer and delved into the aftermath of the events more, I feel like I would’ve given it a higher star rating.
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I really WANTED to like this book, but unfortunately I could not get into it. The writing was good, but the story lacked something.  Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher.
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I believe that YA with a male protagonist written by a male author is quite different than a female author writing about a female protagonist. Everything seems a bit less sugar coated—ruder and rougher, maybe.
The “naming of days” stories were a curious addition to the story of a young man trying to find himself after the deaths of both his parents.
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Riggle had to move in with his uncle at the local trailer park after losing his over-the-road trucker dad in an automobile accident followed by his mom succumbing to her grief and committing suicide. This is the story of a week in Riggle’s life when he not only receives a 5-day suspension from school for supposedly having a vape pen full of THC, but also the week when his uncle goes missing.

Unlike yesterday’s review, this is a book that is being marketed as it should be – Young Adult. Again, kids aren’t stupid. Hell, they probably know more about dealing with real-life issues than many adults who either live in a comfort bubble or who have grown complacent. There’s no reason to hide them from the darker side of life and with a title like this you flat out know it's not going to end well.  However, since it is YA it does retain a little bit of hope – unlike most grit lit selections I pick up. 

I’ve never read this author before (but I did buy a copy of Motherfucking Sharks because - DUH). As the placeholder “review” below indicates, whenever there’s a trailer park on a cover or even a hint that some bad shit might go down due to drug dealing or usage, I’m pretty much like "THESE ARE MY PEOPLE!!!!" 

This was everything I hoped it would be.

Many thanks to NetGalley for one of the quickest approvals I’ve ever received. It’s like you’re starting to understand me ; )


The cover is a god-danged trailer park and it straight up has "Opioid" in the title . . . . C'MON - GIVE IT TO ME!

Seriously. This is pretty much guaranteed to be 5 Stars from Mitchell. Also, it's by the guy who wrote Motherfucking Sharks so if things go well I might have to invite him over to the dungeon my spare room while he writes his next book.
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At first I thought I was going to be reading a nonfiction book (I didn't do much research before starting it obviously) but then it was apparent it is fiction but yet it still felt so real.  I love books that just dump you in the mind of the main character.  Wasn't a big fan of Remote and skipped all those pages, but otherwise a raw, emotional, quirky read.
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Opioid, Indiana is the story of Riggle an orphaned teenager who lives with his uncle in an unnamed city in Indiana. The story takes place in the span of one week, when Riggle gets suspended from school for a week for something he did not do. But hey, he is a teenager so he really does not care about missing school. 

He spends the week having his own adventures, searching for his drug addicted uncle, finding a job, stealing a bike and having lots of text conversations with his friend Bennet. 

This is a very introspective book and of course extremely relevant. At times I felt this book was too nuanced for my taste. The writing is extremely good, but some of it went over my head. I do believe this is an important story that many people will relate to, if you can just slug through some of the tougher sections. Also want to note this is a pretty short book at about 200 Pages, so this will not take to much of your time. 

Thank you NetGalley and Soho Press for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.
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In Opioid, Indiana Brian Allen Carr provides a coming of age story. Riggle, a 17 year old who has been shuffled between family members after the death of his parents, has now landed in Indiana from Texas to live with his uncle and his uncle’s girlfriend. The uncle is missing, and the rent is due in five days. 

Opioid, Indiana is an up close look at a community ravaged by drugs – opioids and painkillers, but also meth and pot and anything else that can be smoked, inhaled or injected. Riggle’s uncle is almost certainly on a binge, and since Riggle has been suspended from school, he’s got a lot of time on his hands to look for him. 

In my real life, I’ve been involved with an opioid taskforce – working to improve education as well as reduce the stigma around its abuse. I had hoped that Opioid, Indiana might be a portrayal of how opioids have hit the middle class and contribute to debunking the myth that it’s only a problem for the down and out, but that wasn’t this book. 

What Opioid, Indiana does provide is an uncensored vignette of the realities of kid dropped into a world where to make it out alive, he’ll have to be self-reliant and resourceful. And if there is hope within, Riggle does show signs of heading this way. Appropriate to its context, the language and content is raw. This portrait isn’t for everyone.
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The book takes place over about a week of time, and each day we get a little fable that his mom told him with using a hand shadow puppet they called Remote. I didn't like these asides. Also made it feel like the character is much younger than his 17 years, but that's understandable with his circumstances. He's had to take care of himself at too young of age. 

During this week Riggle is suspended from school and he and Peggy (his uncle's live-in girlfriend) are trying, half-hardheartedly, to find the uncle. Riggle's only friend plays a small role in the story too, grounding us in the reality of kids living with the possibility of school shootings. There's a lot in this short novel, too much perhaps, and unfortunately a lot of it is lost.

There are interesting sentences and observations but somehow the book isn't pulled together well. It's hard to pin down exactly but the book didn't resonate with me. Perhaps for teenagers this will be a better read for them, yet I find it hard to call this young adult. (I did add the tag.) The book is gritty and dark, but the language and main character does lend it to that YA genre. I wanted the book to work, but unfortunately, for me it didn't.
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There is some strong writing here, but to me, it felt too meandering for no purpose or to no effect, as if it was still an early draft. 
I definitely enjoyed some of the descriptions and characterization. This was a part of America I was very eager to learn about and experience.
I could have done with shorter bits of backstory, more deftly weaved into the forward action of the plot. The Remote myths didn’t resonate for me, so I ended up skipping them after the first one.
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Thank you NetGalley & SoHo Press for the advanced copy of Opioid, Indiana in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Goodreads : "During a week-long suspension from school, a teenage transplant to impoverished rural Indiana searches for a job, the whereabouts of his vanished drug-addicted guardian, and meaning in the America of the Trump years." 

This was a pretty gritty book that i feel YA readers will relate to the most.

I think it was well written and felt like a true story , even though its fiction.

more in depth review to come on GR.
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I struggled to make it through this book. I was intrigued by the very timely topic of the book, but I was not gripped by the writing.
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I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and I cannot stop thinking about it. It's not a true story, but might as well be … certainly a true-to-life snapshot of a teenager's life in a small, impoverished town wrought with dysfunction, sadness, drug addiction and death. I received this book via NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review - and was absolutely NOT disappointed.

The course of the book takes place in one week while 17-year-old Riggle is suspended from school. Both of Riggle's parents have died, so he lives with his uncle who has recently disappeared - most likely on a drug binge. Rent is due, so Riggle sets out to either find his uncle or find the rent money, whatever happens first.

The premise is what grabbed my interested from the very beginning, but it was the story that kept me engrossed for hours. I've always been one to gravitate towards a gritty novel - either adult or teenage-oriented - and Opioid, Indiana fills that need. Riggle is just a kid living in an adult world, dealing with adult things, while still needing the love and nurturing that only a family can bring. It's a heartbreaking yet riveting story. The writing was honest, beautifully poetic at times. This is definitely a novel I'd read over and over again.
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I read Opioid, Indiana in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for my ecopy, Netgalley  + Soho Press. 

I was intrigued by this one because the opioid epidemic has not been kind to my hometown, and I like reading stories from perspectives of people very different from myself (in this case, a teenage boy.) 

This coming of age story follows one week in the life of Riggle, an orphaned teen living in "Opioid Indiana." Throughout the week, Riggle is on a quest to find his missing uncle. 

What I liked about this story:
- From the very first page, I was immersed in the story. There was very little introduction - it read more like you just stumbled upon any random page in the book. I flew through the book - read it in the span of a weekend. 
- I genuinely felt for Riggle and routed for him throughout the story. He thinks like (I would imagine) a teenage boy thinks. He's imaginative, and goofy, and has the wisdom that comes from experiencing a lot of tragedy at a young age. 

Things I didn't love about this one:
- The book takes place over the span of one week. To accompany each day, there's a little mythological anecdote. While I like the idea of these, I didn't love the execution. I ended up skimming them by the end. 
- I wanted a little more of a visualization of the town itself. Given that it's the name of the book, I expected to feel a little more connection to it. 
- There was a "matter of factness" about the addicts (referred to as junkies, etc) that sometimes bothered me. Maybe it's because it was being told from the perspective of a hardened teenage boy, but there wasn't much empathy.
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Thanks Netgalley and Soho Press for the advanced Kindle copy of Opioid, Indiana by Brian Allen Carr.  Look for this YA book to be released on September 17, 2019.  

Seventeen year old Riggle lives in a small Indiana town with his uncle.  Riggle has experienced more than his fair share of tragedies but tells a stoic and introspective story rife with teenage perspective.  That may be a turn off for some adults, but I think that many YA readers will connect with his authentic voice.
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For what this book is, it's great. Was it for me? Not really.

Riggle has to come up with rent money (800) as his uncle is missing and rent is due. He has to either get the money himself or find his uncle. This leads Riggle and the readers to see the current choas that has hit many of the small towns in America from political events. 

It shows small town America and the issues that teens Riggle's age deal with in a world of cultural and political chaos. It's rare to find a book that goes in such depth of such issues and from a teen's POV.

I recommend this book to people who have, themselves, feel the harrowing affects of current events in Trump's America.
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OPIOID, INDIANA picks you up by the collar. There's no putting it down until the last page. I had both laughed and cried by page 24. The plot is compelling, but there's so much more going on in this book about the nuances and complexities in people....the kind of truth that polarized news cycles just can't quite reach. This novel blurs all of the lines in the best way by getting in proximity with people and by storytelling with empathy. There are no throw-away people in this novel. The protagonist, Riggle, is a 17-year-old with no filter who bumps into controversial topics in the most open-eyed way. He also moves through grief in a way that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Without giving any spoilers, it should be said that the novel is constructed in an original and suspenseful way, too. Few writers can capture the balance of the light and dark of being human quite like Brian Allen Carr.
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A believable look at a tired, run down town, told in a voice that elicits empathy from the reader. The teenage protagonist has lost everyone he loves, and this is the story of one tough week.
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Riggle, an orphaned teen, has been shifted from one foster home to another until ending up with his opioid-addicted uncle in a small Indiana town. It's a big change from Texas, but he manages to make a friend and find a job. When his uncle disappears, he and his 'aunt' are left with no means of support and they do what must be done to insure their survival.

This coming of age story will be popular with teens.
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Deep, powerful, and moving. This is the story of Riggle, a 17 year old boy suspended from school for the week and looking for his missing, junkie uncle. You'll be hooked from page one, I promise. Opioid, Indiana is a Catcher in the Rye for the 21st century.
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