"Someone once said anyone can be great under rosy circumstances, but the true test of character is measured by how well a person makes decisions during difficult times."
In this memoir, Jack Gantos begins his story when he is a senior in high school where he is spending the year away from his family after they moved from Florida to the Virgin Islands. Dreaming of becoming a writer, Jack finds himself left with little money for pay for his college tuition. He begins working for his dad where he meets Hamilton and Rik who promise him $10,000 to sail from the Virgin Islands to New York City to sell a large amount of hash to dealers. After a six-week trip, Jack arrives in New York and is captured by the FBI for drug trafficking. He is sentenced to up to six years in jail. Jack spends the next fifteen months behind bars where he works as an x-ray technician and begins to write his thoughts in a journal. He is released early because he applies to a university for creative writing and moves in with a family friend near the college.
I don’t normally enjoy memoirs (or nonfiction) and wasn’t really looking forward to reading this book. I figured it was just another book I was going to have to get through, but I ended up really enjoying it. I really liked the author’s narrative style and was engaged with his story from the beginning. It was fast paced and got the story across without being too drawn out and preachy like many memoirs that I have read. I really appreciated that he did not blame others for his actions and focused on dealing with the consequences of being involved with drug trafficking. The book ended on a positive note showing that he was able to make the best out of his terrible situation. I would recommend this book to all young adults. It was a good read and showed how one bad decision can lead to a stream of criminal and dangerous events.