Monday, November 30, 2009

Drugs: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

People hear about hard-core drug addicts, maybe see them in movies or even know a few in or from their school. But what if that junkie was your best friend of fifteen years, and suddenly you didn’t know that person anymore? In the book In Ecstasy by Kate McCaffrey, this is what happens between best friends, Sophie and Mia.

Sophie is the popular one, while Mia is more reserved and shy. So one night at a party when Sophie decides to try ecstasy, Mia follows her lead. Sophie enjoys the high and has fun, but for Mia it’s a completely different world. Ecstasy gives her the courage and self-esteem she lacks on her own. She is able to socialize with the crowd and even finds herself talking to one of the most popular boys in school. Mia has the time of her life.

The girls attend a few more parties together, and each time Mia is determined to take ecstasy as a way to become this new, improved person. Yet as the time goes on, Mia doesn’t need Sophie anymore. She becomes attached to her new boyfriend, Lewis, and even more attached to this other person she has started to become. Sophie tries rekindling their friendship but discovers the duo no longer has anything in common. Mia begins taking more and more drugs in order to successfully be this happy, popular, carefree girl. Her grades slip, she continually loses weight, fights with her parents and convinces herself Sophie is simply jealous of her new life.

One night at a party at her boyfriend’s house, Mia is brutally awakened to not only the dangers of drugs but to the type of person her boyfriend truly is. Yet at this point Mia is so addicted that she will stop at nothing to get her fix. Meanwhile Sophie and Mia’s family are forced to watch Mia destroy her life. To listen to various real-life drug addicts who discuss similar situations and emotions seen in In Ecstasy, check out this video.

I really enjoyed this book a lot. One aspect that really stuck out for me was simply that McCaffrey does not lie about drugs. Through Mia, the reader sees that yes, drugs can make a person feel incredible. They can give them that extra courage or help they think they need to become popular and even make people believe their lives are better. Yet at the same time McCaffrey shows the true effects of drugs. Mia doesn't become a cool, popular kid; she becomes an addict who potentially loses everything important in her life. I also enjoyed this book because it is told from both Sophie's and Mia's point of view. It is interesting to see both characters and their personal situations through each others' eyes. It gives the reader a deeper perspective into the characters.

I think this is an excellent learning book for students but I do not know if there is any way that parents and/or administrators would allow this to be taught. Obviously this book is primarily about drug abuse, but along with that there are issues of sexual assault, teenage sex, peer pressure, and theft. Because of these serious issues and fairly graphic details, I would recommend this book for older students who are mature enough to handle them. Additionally I might recommend this book to parents. Not everyone knows the signs to look for if their child is doing drugs, and I think this book is especially informative and honest about drug abuse. Since this is told from two female's perspectives, I also think girls might get more enjoyment out of this book than boys, although regardless of the gender, this is still a very informative book on drug addiction.

As a whole, this book is entertaining, interesting, sad and extremely realistic. Mia and Sophie really come alive for readers, and I empathized with them throughout the book. These characters remind me that being an impressionable teenager is not easy, something that as an adult, I think it's sometimes easy to forget.


radcinbad said...


I think you did a wonderful job of outlining this book in an interesting and catchy way. I like how you point out that the author doesn't lie about drugs. It's funny because I believe that the problem with in-school drug programs is that they aren't completely honest with students, and don't tell students the full truth about drug use. Your blog is very detailed and informative while keeping the book intriguing. I also liked your thoughts about parents reading this book as a way to refresh themselves on a teen’s perspective.

Danielle Bartman said...

I agree about you with having parents read this because most parents do not know what is going on with their kids. There is an Oprah show where it is kids and doing drugs, and it shows the actual picture of their brains and the holes in it. It also talks to the parents and kids, this is serious stuff and needs to be addressed to kids before it is too late.

Clarissa H. said...

Hi Amy,

This book sounds fascinating! I think that drug abuse is generally a subject young adult writers stay away from for fear of sending the wrong message. However, your review illustrates how McCaffrey's book is able to paint a very realistic portrait of drug abuse for young readers. I think that this would be a good novel for all young adults to read.

Andra said...


I am definitely going to read this book! I am always trying to find books that portray the realities of drug abuse. I, too, like how the author describes the ups and downs of drug abuse. I think that is realistic.

It does sound like it would be best for older students. Maybe it could be used in a high school health class, although it might be too controversial. What do you think?

Great idea for the parents to read this book! I think parents often look the other way and don't want to face the fact that drugs are out there. Maybe this book would open the eyes of some of the parents and help open the lines of communication.