In Ecstasy by Kate McCaffrey
Fifteen-year-old Sophie and Mia are longtime best friends, who, as the novel opens, are getting ready for a big party. Sophie is more outgoing. Mia is socially awkward and just hopes to get through the evening without making any big mistakes. The mistakes Mia is thinking about are about looking dorky and undesirable in front of boys. Little does she dream that she is going to make one of the great mistakes of her life.
At the party, Sophie and Mia run into Lewis Scott, the ‘dream god’ and Glenn, a guy they don’t know who appears to be Lewis’s friend. Lewis has everything–good looks, money, a cool car–and enough Ecstasy for the group. As soon as Mia swallows the pill stamped with a butterfly, her perception of the party and everyone in it changes. Everyone is beautiful, everything is peace, she suddenly realizes how much she has always loved Lewis.
Because the Ecstasy makes Mia so comfortable and happy at parties, she keeps doing it. She and Lewis start going out and their relationship is in high gear immediately. Mia starts doing stupid things like having unprotected sex and, because she is hanging out with several guys who are heavily into drugs, she tries more serious, addictive substances. Meanwhile, something terrible happened to Sophie after the party. She feels that she can’t tell Mia about it. The more Mia comes out of her shell and is swept into a drug culture, the more Sophie withdraws. Soon, what had seemed like an unbreakable friendship is a thing of the past. And as their bond dissolves, it appears that no one is there to help Mia from self-destructing.
High school housekeeping: This is a cautionary tale about drug use, but a good one because the characters are realistic. Their family problems contribute to the more immediate problem with drug use. As in real life, some of the characters’ anger is justified, but some of the girls’ behavior is delusional–and the reader can see how living outside reality is one of the ingredients for a crash landing onto the plane of what’s real.
WIth a Lexile level of 630, this is a very easy read, but the subject and characterization are for teens. The small format of the book and the chapters which alternate between the point of views of the two friends are appealing to ‘reluctant’ readers. For teens working on their reading skills, this is a fast-paced and focused novel they will enjoy. For all teens, this is a realistic portrayal of the problems that accompany drug use and then addiction. I’ve purchased several copies and plan to book talk it in the fall.