Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 191
What rules would you break to save someone you love?
Overall rating
 
3.0
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
Honor Augustine is having a hard time keeping life under control. Her veteran father has increasing PTSD episodes, and her brother, Knox, is leaving for community college soon. If that wasn’t enough, the beloved family greenhouse where she works is in serious financial trouble, and her father’s veteran’s benefits are about to be slashed. Honor needs a huge amount of money to fix everything. When the idea hits her to grow and sell marijuana, she’s terrified of the risks but doesn’t see any other path forward. As her idea figuratively and literally takes root, Honor will put everything on the line to save her family.

What I Liked:
The romance- While I wouldn’t file SMOKE under the YA romance category, it does have a solid romance subplot. I loved the chemistry between Cole and Honor and how they gradually build trust and really get to know each other.

The depiction of PTSD- Honor’s father is medically approved to use marijuana, but that is the only treatment he gets. As the story grows, you see that while such a treatment alone could work for some, his case requires a more rounded treatment, like adding therapy in, that he refuses to get. It dives into the stigma of mental illness, the difficulties of being a teen while trying to care for a parent, and more. Best of all, it doesn’t put people who have PTSD in any box. PTSD looks different for everyone and can manifest in different ways.

What Left Me Wanting More:
At the conclusion of the story, there is an author’s note that mentions the huge disparity in drug policing and convictions in Black and Latinx communities compared to white communities. Because this is an incredibly important part of the conversation around marijuana and the legalization of it, the note may have been better placed in the beginning, or the story itself could have discussed it at some point. The outcome of Honor’s story would likely have been very different if she were not white. While I’m glad this point is acknowledged, I do think it deserved a more prominent placement or note in the story given the gravity of the situation.

Final Verdict:
Though it could benefit from more nuances, overall, SMOKE is a thought-provoking read that examines important themes of PTSD, the treatment of veterans, and family.
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