Sometimes when there is one outstanding work on a subject it is difficult for another book to step out from its shadow. Drop is always going to struggle with comparison to Melvin Burgess’s Junk, but the comparison is unfair.
Carla is an intelligent girl from a successful family, but she has moved house so many times she has never set down roots. Now her mother has her dream job and they seem set to stay in London at least until Carla finishes school. Carla is determined to fit in and makes some friends early on at the new school. But then the class heart-throb and bad boy takes an interest in her, and she decides that this is the opportunity to re-invent herself as one of the popular kids. As her relationship with Finn develops and she becomes one of the cool crowd, the pressure to join them in taking drugs begins. There is no heavy-handed pushing, but as she spends more time with them it seem harder not to try them out. When she does it is BRILLIANT!!
The power of Drop is its ordinariness. Carla is just an ordinary girl who wants to be cool, her life is not a wreck, her mum could be around more, but all in all things are okay. She takes drugs because her friends do, and the drugs make her feel great. She goes into a decline, but it is slipping from an A* to a B grade, not mugging old ladies for money. In the end she comes near to death when someone spikes her drink, and she realises that what she thought was cool is anything but.
This is a very readable, realistic book with some characters the type of which are found in every school. It is honest in its dealing with teenage drug use, and the pitfalls. It is a book that will have its moment – but Junk hasn’t been eclipsed just yet.