Binge

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by Charles Ferry. (DaisyHill, 1992 ISBN 0963279904. Paperback.). Novel. Grades 7+.
This review by Carol Otis Hurst first appeared in Teaching K-8 Magazine.
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Review

As you can see by the copyright date, this is not a brand new book, but it's by a very small publishing company and I've just discovered it. I think it's important enough to bring to your attention. This is a brutal book with a strong moral impact. It walks a thin line between a tract on the evils of alcohol and a novelette and, due to the skill of Mr. Ferry, it succeeds.

We come upon our anti-hero, Weldon Yeager, 18 , as he wakes up in a hospital room where an understanding nurse becomes the human figure in the tale. We soon learn that there was a car accident and that his foot has been amputated. Apparently he ran over four teenagers in the accident; two are dead and the other two cling to life.

All that is horrible enough, but there is more. Weldon is addicted to alcohol and has been for a couple of years. He has become alienated from his parents and has failed to graduate from high school. He gives his testimony to a police officer and, through a series of flashbacks, we get the details. The book spares the reader nothing: the vomiting and diarrhea as his body tries to handles the alcohol abuse, the false courage the alcohol gives him as he steals and lies his way along.

At the time of the accident, he was trying to get back to the place and girl, Livvy, of his pre-alcoholic days. We learn, when he does, that one of the victims of his drunk driving was Livvy and, at the end of the book, we learn that she too has died but Weldon's mind cannot deal with that fact.

As I said, the book is brutal and it's powerful. It is also very brief and the reading level is not difficult. It just might cause some teenage students to stop and reevaluate their attitudes toward drinking. They all think they're immortal and that they can handle it. So did Weldon.


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