Vitamins and Death by Medeia Sharif
Publisher: Prizm Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (172 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
Deidra Battle wants nothing more than to be invisible. After her mother, a public school teacher, engages in an embarrassing teacher-student affair at Lincoln High, they relocate to a different neighborhood and school. Being her mother’s briefcase, Deidra joins her mother at her new workplace, Hodge High.
Since her mother has reverted to her maiden name and changed her appearance, Deidra thinks no one will figure out they’re the Battles from recent news and that they’re safe. Neither of them is. Hodge brings a fresh set of bullies who discover details about the scandal that changed her life.
Feeling trapped at home with an emotionally abusive, pill-addicted mother and at school with hostile classmates who attempt to assault and blackmail her, Deidra yearns for freedom, even if she has to act out of character and hurt others in the process. Freedom comes at a price.
How would you respond if your life continued to get worse and worse with no end in sight? There’s only so much even the strongest person can take.
The character development was strong, especially for Deidra. She’s dealt with some incredibly difficult situations over the past year or so, and she’s only now beginning to understand how all of the dysfunctional behavior of other people has affected her emotionally. Seeing her attempt to work through the negative consequences of these things made me wish this book wouldn’t end. While I don’t know if Ms. Sharif is planning to write a sequel, I’d be thrilled to read it if she ever decides to do so.
It would have been helpful to have a more thorough explanation of how Deidra’s mom was able to keep her teaching license in light of the scandal that the Battle family is trying to outrun. Teachers are normally held to a strict code of ethics, so I never quite understood how her mom was able to her wiggle her way out of the consequences that she should have faced.
What provokes an abusive person one day might not be worth mentioning the next. Some of the scenes that showed what it’s like to live with an abusive parent were hard to read, but if anything this made them even more powerful. There is definitely something to be said for shedding light on painful topics like this one. These sections were incredibly well done.
I’d heartily recommend Vitamins and Death to adult and teen readers alike. This is one of those books that can easily slip between the young adult and adult genres!