The Death of Jayson Porter

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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.

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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 Awardwinning author Jaime Adoff explores the harsh reality of a teenager's life, giving hope even in the bleakest of hours.

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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

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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: 9781423106920
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 8/4/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jaime Adoff is the author of the critically acclaimed The Song Shoots out of My Mouth, a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Honor Book; Names Will Never Hurt Me, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults nominee; and Jimi & Me, winner of the 2006 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. He is the son of the late Newbery Awardwinning author Virginia Hamilton and renowned poet Arnold Adoff.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 18, 2013

    I believe that "The death of Jayson Porter" deserves t

    I believe that "The death of Jayson Porter" deserves two thumbs up for being such an outstanding novel!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 25, 2012

    This book is about a teenage boy ,Jayson, who lives in a small a

    This book is about a teenage boy ,Jayson, who lives in a small apartment with his younger sister and his abusive mom. His dad doesn't live with the rest of his family because hes addicted to drugs. Jayson hates his life and the only person that can make him happy is his friend. In this book Jayson has to choose to live and suffer with the terrible world he lives in or to end his life. I think this is an amazing book. I would recommend it to teens and adults who like books with a lot of suspension.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for Teens Read Too

    Jayson Porter lives on the eighteenth floor of a rundown Florida apartment building with his abusive mother and whatever boyfriend she is currently entertaining. He is trying to hold down a part-time job and still keep up with his homework at the exclusive private school that has offered him a scholarship. Each day as he walks along the railing outside his apartment, he considers how easy it would be to just end it all. He fantasizes about how quick and painless death would be if he jumped. Only two things keep him moving from day to day - his one friend, Trax, and April, a recent acquaintance who might prove to be a cool girlfriend or perhaps an annoying stalker. When Trax dies because the meth lab explodes in a neighboring apartment, Jayson's fragile life begins to seriously crumble. Author Jaime Adoff takes readers deep into the troubled mind of Jayson Porter. His sometimes sparse and always brutally honest voice reveals the heartbreak and trauma that make up Jayson's young life. Although he dreams of death and does make an attempt, there is still hope left for Jayson if he chooses to work hard enough to hang on to it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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