Opioid, Indiana

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 24 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

Unfortunately, I only made it about halfway through. I didn't feel much for the characters, and was uninterested in the execution of the plot.
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Opioid, Indiana
Book Review | 📚📚📚📚 4/5
Brian Allen Carr (author) | Soho Press

Growing up as a transplant teenager in Opioid, Indiana isn’t easy. Especially when adults are completely self-occupied, and your only friends are a cellphone-addicted buddy and an insightful hand shadow puppet.

Why I was interested in this book:
Opioid, Indiana is another grit-lit tale, this time from a small midwestern town. Author Brian Allen Carr was written some other gritty and horror-based books that I have not yet read, but have found very intriguing.
Full disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley.com for an honest review. I would not have requested to read this book had I not been interested in the topic. And I was not disappointed!

My assessment:
This was a very finely crafted book. It took place over the course of a week and had all the best elements of a grit-lit novel: a self-reliant and lost protagonist; unavailable, unreliable, and/or self-occupied family and authority figures, and quirky friends and community folk. The story is from the perspective of the 17-year old main character, Riggle. It integrated an allegory of growth via the days of the week, philosophical social construct, and despondent adults. While the situations and commentary were adult and serious, the youthful perspective was riddled with humor and thoughtfulness. The sentence in the book that seemed to sum up the story was “You have to focus on how the pain of now can lead to the joy of tomorrow.”

The biggest challenge I found with the book was its writing perspective. While Riggle is a quasi-experienced teen in Opioid, Indiana, (which could have just as easily been renamed as Anytown, USA) it was hard to believe that he could be so intuitive, know so much about philosophy and life in an academic way, and still be as naïve and in need of adult love as he did. His voice was an awkward mix of teen vernacular and context well beyond his abilities. There were some great support characters who demonstrated providing appropriate attention and nurturing, despondency, or an inability to care.

Stories of the human condition:
This story is a reminder of so many parts of our current country’s problems: addiction, loss and death, child neglect, gun control, fear, and quick answers via Google. It’s also a story for self-realization, hope, personal growth and the pursuit for a positive life. Each character adds to the fairy tale that is Riggle’s life, and the allegorical use of a quirky but lovable, and fantasized authority figure is endearing. Ultimately, it’s a moral of “it gets better, but it’s up to you.”

TAGS:
#OpioidIndiana #Opioid Indiana #BrianAllenCarr #BrianAllenCarr #NetGalley #Net Galley #Soho Press #SohoPress #review-book #book review #ComingOfAge #TuggleGrassBlues #Tuggle Grass Reviews #Tuggle Grass Blues #TuggleGrassReviews
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I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  			
			
From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.			
			
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.

Seventeen-year-old Riggle is living in rural Indiana with his uncle and uncle’s girlfriend after the death of both of his parents. Now his uncle has gone missing, probably on a drug binge. It’s Monday, and $800 in rent is due Friday. Riggle, who’s been suspended from school, has to either find his uncle or get the money together himself. 

His mission exposes him to a motley group of Opioid locals—encounters by turns perplexing, harrowing, and heartening. Meanwhile, Riggle marks each day by remembering the mythology his late mother invented for him about how the days got their names.
 
With amazing directness and insight, Carr explores what it’s like to be a high school kid in the age of Trump, a time of economic inequality, addiction, confederate flags, and mass shootings. A work of empathy and insight, Opioid, Indiana pierces to the heart of our moment through an unforgettable protagonist.


This is one h*ll of a polarizing book: Both my husband, my sister and my father (and I) read it and had varying takes on it. (good thing that we are all speed readers or this book would have taken ages to read 😂.)  Therefore, a book club choice it is!!! 

The story is well crafted and it could easily have been a non-fiction book: in fact, when I requested it I was surprised that it was not a true story! The characters are fascinating and they will stick in your brain for weeks on end. No matter what your politics are or your opinion of Donald Trump is. you will enjoy this book and talk about it for weeks: tell your friends to buy it and read it, too! 

For the sake of those gentle readers, I will leave out the profanity I have directed to a certain POTUS: ergo I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by Millenials on Instagram and Twitter) so here we go:  let's give it 	🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡.
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I was hesitant about this book at first. I wound up devouring it in two sittings. I was stuck by the RIggles intelligence and self reflection. It was a book about addiction that did not hit you over the head. I was concerned that it would be added to a chain of books that is voyeuristic, but the narrator made it personal.
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This novel was surprisingly refreshing considering that it covers today's current events, which are relatively degrading and depressing, with such candor and wit from our 17 year old main character.  This novel will attract both YA and adult readers.  The novel begins with our main character, Riggle, questioning his personal identity in this world of locking up immigrants at the border, locking up drug addicts, waking up to discover his mother dead in bed, his father already dead, and dreading finding out if his uncle, who he is living with in Indiana, after leaving Texas, is dead from an overdose.  The novel begins talking about fitting in as white, Hispanic, mixed race, where race didn't seem to matter as much in Texas as it does when he moves to a small town in Indiana, where he faces more Confederate flags, more Trumpers, more discrimination, more pain..  What makes the novel so unique is hearing about all this through the voice of a teenager, and how all this political and cultural madness  affects teens, people who are rarely considered when discussing politics.  I love how the author address gun violence and brings up the Parkland massacre. It does show the emergency of  teen activism. Carr hauled ass to get this novel written--very timely, very enjoyable, even though the novel is surrounded by such bleakness.
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