Brian Allen Carr
Publisher: Soho Press
Published date: September 2019
Audience: Young adult
Content/Trigger warnings: racial slurs, misogyny, substance abuse, underage drinking, domestic abuse, death
Representation: low SES/orphaned MC, POC side character
During a week-long suspension from school, a teenage transplant to impoverished rural Indiana searches for a job, the whereabouts of his vanished drug-addicted guardian, and meaning in the America of the Trump years.
I have a lot of thoughts about this book. Some of them are good. Some of them not so much. And some I just don’t know?
Opioid, Indiana follows a week in the life of 17-year-old Riggle. He lives in a small town in Indiana, in the presidential-era of Donald Trump. Riggle is an orphan who is now living in a household of his drug-using uncle. On top of this, he is living in an America which is riddled with drugs, school shootings and confederate flags.
I want to note here that I do not live in America, so I have very little lived-in experience of this national climate.
Overall, the story is a dialogue of Riggle’s thoughts throughout this week. Quite often, these thoughts are incredibly crude. While this may be a dictation on how a society effects the way a teenager views the world, it quite often seemed unnecessary and crude just for the sake of being crude. This begins very early on, and had this not been an ALC, it may have very quickly caused me to DNF the story.
The story is also intertwined with folk-type tales that Riggle used to be told by his late-mother. While these were an interesting element to the story, I didn’t really understand the reason for their inclusion?
The audio and narration of the story was something that I did enjoy. Had this story been matched with a different narrator it could quickly have become something that was difficult to slog through, when paired with the crude commentary and seemingly unnecessary story-telling.
Despite everything that I struggled with, Carr presents us with a very unique narrative of life in modern America. The disagreeable protagonist was an interesting element, as the reader is forced to consider their situation and how they feel towards the character because of their circumstances. The writing style throughout was incredibly good as well.
And so I’m settling on a 2.5/5. Right in the middle. I don’t think I’ll pick this up again but the book does have some merit. Just be aware of the trigger warnings if you want to pick this one up.