Love Is the Drug

by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Teenager Emily Bird feels pressure to be perfect — a credit to her family and... read more

Teenager Emily Bird feels pressure to be perfect — a credit to her family and all African Americans. But inside, she’s far more Bird than Emily, longing to fly away from rigid expectations that have nothing to do with her desires. Bird meets private government security contractor Roosevelt David at a party in Washington, D.C. — her boyfriend Paul is angling for an internship with the man’s company. She wakes up in the hospital eight days later. Bird has hazy memories of leaving the party. The most vivid one is of Coffee, a known drug dealer and son of a Brazilian diplomat, chasing the car as Paul drove her away. Coffee, whom she’s always found intriguing. Did he drug her? She doesn’t believe it despite what Roosevelt and Paul suggest. Bird senses something far more sinister in her lost memories, and begins to realize Roosevelt is afraid of something she might know but doesn’t remember, and that it’s related to her scientist parents’ work and the flu pandemic spreading across the globe and nation. As the death toll begins to mount in D.C., and as Bird tries to piece together what’s going on, she feels the menace of Roosevelt everywhere she turns. Staying with her Uncle Nicky — underachiever in her mother’s eyes, free man in Bird’s — because her parents can’t return to the city, and not sure whom to trust, she puts her faith in new friend Marella, and in Coffee, with whom she is falling in love. Alaya Dawn Johnson’s compelling thriller is marked by thickly woven storytelling that features complex plotting, rich language, and a cast of multidimensional characters. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2015

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