The Death of Jayson Porter

The Death of Jayson Porter

4.5 4
by Jaime Adoff
     
 

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Sixteen-year-old Jayson Porter wants to believe things will get better. But the harsh realities of his life never seem to change. Living in the inland-Florida projects with his abusive mother, he tries unsuccessfully to fit in at his predominately white school, while struggling to maintain even a thread of a relationship with his drug-addicted father. As the pressure… See more details below

Overview

Sixteen-year-old Jayson Porter wants to believe things will get better. But the harsh realities of his life never seem to change. Living in the inland-Florida projects with his abusive mother, he tries unsuccessfully to fit in at his predominately white school, while struggling to maintain even a thread of a relationship with his drug-addicted father. As the pressure mounts, there�s only one thing Jayson feels he has control over -- the choice of whether to live or die.

In this powerful, gripping novel, Coretta Scott King Award�winning author Jaime Adoff explores the harsh reality of a teenager�s life, giving hope even in the bleakest of hours.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA
Opening with a blank-verse poem that wrenches the reader immediately into high school junior Jayson's overwhelming world of parental abuse, poverty, and depression, award-winning Adoff (son of Virginia Hamilton and Arnold Adoff) delivers fully and with a surprising-but credible-upbeat denouement. Jayson recounts, often in the present tense and usually in blank verse, a summer during which his mother continues to beat him, his best friend dies horribly, he falls in love and loses the girl, and he tries to commit suicide. In quick, minimalist strokes, Adoff paints Jayson's public housing home, tense bus rides with posturing street thugs, the posh private school he attends on scholarship, the mind-numbing job he holds at a car dealership, and eventually his treatment-both physical and emotional-at the hospital. Boys will find this book to be true and gripping, but it also needs to be read by others, including youth librarians looking for insight as well as excellent writing. It is a natural for discussion groups, but its powerful authenticity needs no intermediary to speak directly to the Jaysons of our time and their friends. Reviewer: Francisca Goldsmith
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up- Jayson Porter, 16, spends his days as a struggling scholarship student at a prep school in a wealthy Florida suburb, and the rest of his time at home in the projects avoiding his abusive white alcoholic mother, checking in on his wasted-on-crack black father, and smoking dope with his friend Trax. Jayson knows how to survive in "the hood," but the mounting pressures of his mother's beatings, his challenges at school, and his menial job build until he sees suicide as his only escape. The idea of jumping from the 18th-floor breezeway outside his apartment door entices him. Trax is killed in a meth-lab explosion, and then Jayson's father lets slip that he and Lizzie aren't really his parents, but stole him from their friend Trina when all were drug addicts living together. It's the last straw, and Jayson jumps, but only from the seventh floor. He survives but with a broken neck, narrowly missing serious paralysis, and facing months of surgery, therapy, and rehabilitation. Jayson's first-person narration throbs with the pain of his life, revealing the frightened teen behind the cocky exterior. Adoff writes candidly, with carefully chosen details carrying a wealth of insight, in a style approaching free verse that draws out the complexities of Jayson's character as he deals with sexuality, self-esteem, and identity. The ending is a bit too tidy, but Jayson is a vivid, dynamic character who will get under readers' skin.-Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS

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Kirkus Reviews
Abuse coupled with the death of a friend drives a teen over the edge and toward a new life. Jayson Porter wonders why he doesn't stand up to the constant abuse of his alcoholic mother. Unfortunately, Bandon, Fla., has few options for an interracial 16-year-old whose skills include avoiding neighborhood thugs, cleaning motor-homes and failing classes. After an unsuccessful suicidal leap lands him in traction, Jayson begins to confront both his inner turmoil and his kidnappers. Adoff's narrative blends verse styling with short chapters, accurately reflecting Jayson's conflicted personality and disjointed home life. Though tragically flawed, the characters are ultimately underdeveloped; Jessie's alcoholism only partly explains her abuse and raises questions as to the authenticity of her anger toward Jayson. Adoff's portrayal of the weakened Jayson and ultimate reunion with Trina creates a saccharine feeling in the second half of the book, which is incongruous with the pervasive despair in the first half. As Jayson comes back to life, readers can't help but wish the turnaround had been more realistic. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781423106913
Publisher:
Disney-Hyperion
Publication date:
04/29/2008
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)
Lexile:
560L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

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