These are the words that come to mind when I think of Jason Myers’ novel, Exit Here. It is the very, very messed up story of nineteen-year-old Travis Wayne. Travis is mixed up in some pretty serious stuff. He’s into all kinds of drugs, drinks like a fish, smokes like a chimney, he doesn’t work, and he just flunked out of college. Sounds bleak huh? Well, I wish I could say that is the worst of it, but I’d be lying.
There is nothing warm and fuzzy about this read, so if you’re looking for something feel-good, this is the wrong book for you. Yet, it is definitely a novel that I think everyone – teens and parents alike – should experience.
When Travis comes home for the summer, his father hopes he can convince him to go back to school and make another go of it. But as soon as Travis rolls back into town, he falls back into old habits, hanging around his old buddies doing the same old thing: smoking, taking drugs, drinking and taking more drugs. And then there is Laura – Travis’s ex-girlfriend. He desperately wants to get back together with her, but first he needs to figure out what went wrong with them in the first place.
The drug taking in this book goes way beyond the realms of recreational usage, and there are many lessons to be learned from it. It is hard to say whether Travis’s problems arise because he is a heavy drug user, or whether he became a heavy drug user because of his problems. What I like about this positioning, though, is that is forces the reader to try and understand Travis a little more, and about half way through the book I found myself comparing aspects of my own life and my own personality with his. Even though we have very little in common, I can still identify with him on some level.
Because Travis and his friends are ultimately ‘cool’ kids, their drug taking is a little glorified. But make no mistake, Exit Here projects a very clear message that taking drugs leads to all kinds of trouble. Readers just have to watch Travis’s sister’s storyline unfold, or the horrific events that occur as a direct result of Cliff’s – Travis’s best friend – drug abuse. I felt uncomfortable throughout my entire reading experience because I knew, I had a sinking feeling, that Travis and his friends were going to meet a horrible demise.
And I was right.
Exit Here is powerful and compelling because its so believable. While not based on a true story, as the events unfold, the reader can’t help but ask if some small aspect of this story might be true. Travis’s voice is convincing, and at no point in the reading process did I find myself becoming bored with his thoughts, or uninterested in his actions. I recommend this book to all.