________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 14 . . . . December 5, 2014


The Bodies We Wear.

Jeyn Roberts.
New York, NY: Alfred Knopf (Distributed in Canada by Random House Canada), 2014.
353 pp., hardcover & ebook, $21.00 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-385-75142-5 (hc.), ISBN 978-0-385-75411-8 (ebook).

Subject Headings:
Drug abuse-Fiction.
Science fiction.

Grades 10-12 / Ages 15-17.

Review by Daphne Hamilton Nagorsen.

***˝ /4


“God, you sound just like Gazer,” I say, “Except he doesn’t believe in heaven. He doesn’t believe in anything. But he keeps saying that I can determine my future. I have free will. Every choice I make determines my next step. But everyone keeps forgetting. I don’t have a future.”

“Sure you do.”

“No, I don’t.” I yank down my shirt enough to show him the top of my scars again. “You’ve been away for a long time. Maybe you’ve forgotten but things haven’t changed. I’m a Heam addict. No one is ever going to give me a job. I’m never going to have a normal life. I couldn’t even make it through high school without getting kicked out. I’ve got nothing.”



Heam is the latest wonder drug, created to resemble crystal meth and Ecstasy. It shuts the body down and users temporarily die. That users claim to have seen heaven while dead attracts more people to try Heam. Those who overdose are left with scars on their chest and shoulder and have a permanent addiction to Heam. Overdosers are ostracized, left on the fringes of society to fend for themselves.

     Faye was 11 when local drug dealers forced her and her friend, Christian, to take Heam in “payment” for her father’s debts. Christian died. Faye lived, but with the scars of a Heam overdoser. Rejected by her mother, Faye now lives with Gazer who saved her life six years ago. Faye has been allowed to attend a private high school, but with many conditions on her behaviour, including limiting her contact with other students and not making friends. As she pursues her dream of revenge against the dealers who killed her and Christian, Faye has to determine what she wants her own future to look like.

     Jeyn Roberts describes a bleak city, a place where people are written off and left to die on the streets. A city where no one, not even children, is safe from the drug dealers and the lure of Heam. A place where the rules are written to keep some people from ever succeeding, no matter how hard they try. The location in The Bodies We Wear is bleak and foreboding, but extremely realistic. Roberts needs very little description to convey the harshness of the city and what it is like for those on the outskirts, let alone those who fall into addiction.

     The excellence of Jeyn Roberts’ writing continues with her characters. Characters are often presented simply, but effectively. Readers can easily imagine the characters, what they look like and how they will act. Faye is an interesting and strong person facing a harsh world. Faye’s desire for revenge and her increasing ambition to show that Heam addicts should not be thrown away are characteristics that readers can identify with. At the same time, the characters are realistic and Faye is not a superhero. She does not always win and is not invulnerable and immortal. This is in keeping with the setting and tone of the book and will be appealing to readers who can see an ordinary girl who has to face some huge obstacles.

     The secondary characters are also well described and have important roles in the book, although the fates of these characters are often less than happy. Beth, the young girl whom Faye saves from dying of a Heam overdose, provides Faye with the opportunity to see outside herself and her own problems. Beth’s struggle with Heam addiction gives Faye perspective on her own struggles and helps to make her a stronger person.

     The Bodies We Wear is a dark story but also an inspiring one. Jeyn Roberts has written a compelling story about a girl who wants her life back and the people who are determined to make sure she gets her wish.

Highly Recommended.

Daphne Hamilton Nagorsen is a graduate of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at UBC, Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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