Last year, I had the privilege of hearing Jaime Adoff speak at our state school librarian conference. During one of his sessions, he read excerpts from The Death of Jayson Porter. I was immediately intrigued by the subject matter and the way Jaime read it. This is a novel in verse, and there is a definite rhythm to the flow of the words. As a former musician, I really appreciate this. Anyway, I finally got around to reading The Death of Jayson Porter, and it was well worth the wait.
Jayson Porter lives in the slums of Bandon, Florida, and his life is not an easy one. Lizzie, his mother, beats him regularly, never stays with just one man, and always seems to be high. His dad is a crack addict. Jayson feels like there is only one way out for him…jumping from the rail of his apartment complex. He wants to do it, to end all of his pain. He just has to find the strength.
After the death of his best friend and a revelation from his father, Jayson jumps…and lives. He is now experiencing a new kind of pain–the pain of healing, both physically and emotionally. Will he be able to escape the life he was living? Will he find the help he needs? Or will he try to end it all again? Read Jaime Adoff’s gripping novel, The Death of Jayson Porter, to find these answers and more.
I can’t say this is a happy book by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it was extremely depressing most of the way through. Readers encounter bad language and some mature scenes, but Adoff remains true to the characters and setting of this book. Nothing is sugarcoated. I think this book sheds a light on what some teens are facing, whether they live in the poorest slums or the wealthiest neighborhoods. We never know what’s going on at home or in a person’s own mind. One small glimmer of hope may be all that someone needs keep them going. I highly recommend The Death of Jayson Porter by Jaime Adoff, and I will be encouraging many of my students to read this amazing story.