• Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews

Review: Tripping Back Blue

A teen who deals drugs to pay for his twin sister's college tuition is introduced to a mysterious hallucinogen he's never before encountered. High school senior Finn, with a scar on his face that "distinguishes [him] from every other white dude," is a master at charming his way into and out of most situations. Though he's highly intelligent, with an almost-encyclopedic knowledge of nature, particularly of ornithology, he's developed a rough exterior that allows him to finesse his way in school, with girls, and in the drug world. Though it's for the benefit of his sister, Faith, who has been accepted to Harvard, he tries to keep his dealing a secret from her. As the novel progresses and Finn begins not only selling heroin, but using it, he falls for Stacey, whose grandmother has access to an otherworldly substance he dubs indigo; using it as well, he begins to lose himself. This unusual and distinctive tale of family violence, addiction, and hope is fascinating, and the back story of indigo is richly imagined and compelling. Finn's tough-talking dialogue occasionally feels a bit over-the-top for a teen, such as when he angrily refers to Stacey as "sweetheart," "babe" and "darlin' " all in the space of two paragraphs, but he is an authentically complex and likable narrator. An emotional and original debut novel that will hook older teen readers and young adults. (Fiction. 14 & up)

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