Thyme Gilcrest, an honor student in an upscale suburban high school, begins her short career as drug dealer by taking a friend's Ritalin and finding it useful as a "study drug." Though she has suspected she might have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), her parents don't think so; what she does know is that the drug helps her focus and perform with reassuring reliability. Gradually, experimenting with the effects of other drugs--Adderall, Xanax, Zoloft, Valium, and others easily found in medicine cabinets or in the purses of parents' party guests--she finds herself able not only to "manage" her own mood swings and compensate for the effects of the Ritalin, but also to supply a growing number of friends who trade in prescription drugs.

For some time, since she hardly fits the profile of a drug dealer, she is able to remain in denial about her growing preoccupation with obtaining and distributing drugs. Only when one friend gets caught, another commits suicide, and a boyfriend confronts her does she decide she needs to be done with personal use and disengage from the network of codependent "friends" who have come to rely on her for their drugs of choice. In the final chapter, in her college dorm, she once again faces the temptation to deal when she overhears new acquaintances asking where they might get Adderall or Ritalin or Stratera. They're willing to pay.


In the epilogue to this disturbing book the author gives her own reasons for writing a book about high school students dealing in prescription drugs: she knows two people whose lives have been ruined by the habit. The book offers a detailed chronicle of the pressures and processes that bring ordinary kids who have access to generous allowance money and whose parents assume all is well without checking too closely, to get drawn into a spreading subculture of drug-dealing in FDA approved substances.

The protagonist-narrator is well-drawn: smart, fairly self-aware, able to name her own anxieties, to rationalize her behavior in ways that provide the reader with a bit of dramatic irony, and ultimately to make hard choices on complex terms. The degree to which middle-class kids do appear here to indulge in drugs, sex, lying, and double lives is certainly disturbing. The author's point is precisely that: that far more kids than we might like to think are subjected to serious pressure to avail themselves of the "help" such drugs provide, and have easier access than it might appear. The author's epilogue cites helplines and websites for those who are struggling with those pressures.


Simon & Schuster

Place Published

New York



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