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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland. Quinones explains how the rise of the prescription drug OxyContin, a miraculous and extremely addictive painkiller pushed by pharmaceutical companies, paralleled the massive influx of black tar heroin—cheap, potent, and originating from one small county on Mexico’s west coast, independent of any drug cartel. Introducing a memorable cast of characters—pharmaceutical pioneers, young Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics investigators, survivors, teens, and parents—Dreamland is a revelatory account of the massive threat facing America and its heartland.…


by Sam Quinones

Overall Book Review:

Technically, Dreamland by Sam Quinones is not a new book.  However, in this installment, Mr. Quinones has adapted his 2015 work of the same title for a new, younger audience.  

The opiate epidemic in the United States probably isn’t a new concept to most people.  This work, however, shows just how pervasive and insidious the epidemic is.  And that it isn’t in some back-alley slum, but instead in suburbia America, where one would think it least to be.

The language of the book is very straight forward.  There are very few terms that even younger readers wouldn’t be able to understand.  The first section, handling more of the mechanics and history of opioids might be a little tough for the less mature reader, but I think even those that struggle a bit will get the general outline of how the drug(s) work and how they came to be so prevalent.

I think this book is best utilized in two different ways.  This first is for parents and readers to glean a better understanding of the topic in a format that is written for the average reader and not steeped in politics or overly confusing medical jargon.  The second is as a discussion piece for young adult readers to more finely hone their opinions, thoughts, and perspectives on this very timely topic.

Overall this is a good non-fiction read and serves as a great primer on the topic of opiates in the United States.

Review of an Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  4 mild obscenities and 2 derogatory names.

Violence/Gore:  Numerous references to deaths by overdose; recall of car accident with broken bones; various minor injuries; reference to spouse and child abuse; report of stabbing and murder; reports of being held at gunpoint; teen is pistol-whipped; dead body found in trunk of car; self-inflicted gunshot wound to head (goofing around, not suicide).  Depictions have minimal detail and are not graphic in nature.

Sex/Nudity:  Reference to sex; reference to pornography as a currency.

Mature Subject Matter:

Socioeconomic and racial conflict; bankruptcy; ethics; addiction; crimes including stealing, robbery, shoplifting and murder; drugs.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Abuse of both legal and illegal substances such as OxyContin and heroin throughout book by adults and minors alike; references to pot and alcohol.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I am a full-time mom, full-time wife, and overtime reader. I have been an avid reader for as long as anyone can remember. It must run in the family because both my mother and grandmother are also voracious readers and often pass books back and forth. Almost any genre can spark my interest, but I often go in streaks, reading a bunch of books from one genre, then switching to another for a while and back again.