Love Is the Drug
by Alaya Dawn Johnson

So this book was published a handful of years ago…but wow was it eerily prescient for stuff going on today as I read this in 2021.

I am a big fan of Johnson’s YA voice, they’re always brutally vulnerable, not too perfect, authentic to their time, and Bird/Emily is exactly what she is: the privileged black high school daughter of government scientist ambitious parents, navigating prep school boyfriend and college decisions.

Only we meet Emily when she’s ditching her perfect boyfriend and the party to hang out downstairs with a stoner, Coffee, who is bad news, but with whom Emily feels more like herself. Then strange stuff goes down, she gets drunk…maybe….and loses her memory of the rest of that night.

All she knows is a some shadowy gov’t dude named Roosevelt thinks she knows something important, something connected to her parents who are away from home “saving” the world in the midst of a deadly virus causing Washington D.C. and the world to go into lockdown.

Yep, it’s a deadly virus book. That’s what made this so eerie to me, the precautions, the lockdowns, the political manuevers for power, the gov’t lies, etc. etc.

But underneath all that plot is Emily losing her “perfect’ life and discovering her authentic self and that’s always awesome to read about.