Junk (also titled Smack) is Melvin Burgess’ story of teen runaways who get into drugs in 1980s England. It’s not explicitly judgmental, and the characters don’t die at the end, but even still, today it feels a lot like an after-school special.
One of the good things about the book is the profusion of viewpoint characters. While most of the story is told through Tar and Gemma’s points of view, we also get sections from the characters surrounding them. Everyone is clearly unreliable when they narrate, be they racist or naive or disapproving or defensive.
In class we heard how much disapproval there was of this book winning a Carnegie medal for YA literature from parents and librarians because it wasn’t clearly disapproving of the practices in the story. I don’t know. It seemed pretty uncelebratory of drug culture to me, kind of like a lighter version of Requiem for a Dream.