Fiction - Cultural
214 Pages
Reviewed on 05/09/2017
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Author Biography

Motorcycles, guitars, books, and travel. Not in that order. Retired English teacher circling back to adolescence (gerolescence versus obsolescence). Writing novels to learn and grow.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

Jellybeaners by Gene Scott is a heartbreaking story of the opioid epidemic, a story that captures the drug plague in the very heart of Appalachia. In this spellbinding story, readers will navigate the pains and peril and the despair that surrounds the use of the opioid. The story features a game of power and money, political corruption, untold misery resulting from drug abuse, and a lot more. In vivid and captivating prose and making compelling historical references, the author leads the reader into a vivid setting, a world cursed by drugs.

The reader is left in no doubt that the author has done his research very well, because he writes like an expert in the field, unveiling facts and scientific truths about the use of the drug that aren’t accessible to the ordinary person. The novel’s plot is very unusual, told in a highly descriptive style; it is focused and purpose-driven. I was drawn in, pulled irresistibly from the start, and having worked in a mental hospital, I could see the same drama I have witnessed in mental patients unfolding within these pages. The story has a realism that forces the reader to take note, to stop and contemplate the insidious events that literally rob millions of people of life and an abiding sense of meaning. The conflict is unique and strong enough to allow the reader to continue from page to page. This is a story that combines history with powerful social commentary to offer an exposé of a dark reality that is woven into the fabric of modern society. Jellybeaners by Gene Scott is a succinct indictment for the lucrative trade of drug trafficking.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Jellybeaners by Gene Scott is an addictive story of prescription drugs. Addiction to opioids is a long-standing thing and can be traced back through history for centuries. The American Civil War was responsible for at least 200,000 addicts, those who spent what was left of their lives dealing with shattered minds and limbs. Moving forward 150 years, and a report by The American Society of Addiction Medicine reveals that addiction to prescription opioids is spiraling out of control, with more than 2 million Americans addicted just in 2015. Death from overdose of prescription pain medications reached 20,101 in 2015 as well. Jellybeaners is a tale of money, politics, corruption, and lives wasted through addiction; a tale that comes from both sides of the law, pulling apart the cash nature of the culture of prescription pills.

Jellybeaners by Gene Scott is set in Appalachia and is an incredibly detailed story. The historical and medical details are accurate, denoting what was obviously a great deal of research by Mr. Scott. Although the story is centered around Appalachia, there is absolutely no doubt that it is a subject replicated, not just in every part of the USA, but in many parts of the whole world, a truly shocking story to those who were not aware of the scale of addiction to prescription medications. Mr. Scott has written the characters to suit the story and both are described very well. The level of detail is graphic at times, but then a subject like this cannot be sugar-coated. It’s nice to read a book that is both a novel and highly educational at the same time, and I guarantee it will be an eye-opener for many. Recommended for anyone who wants a good story to get their teeth into and anyone who wants to know where prescription pill addiction really began and how it has progressed through time.

Rabia Tanveer

Jellybeaners by Gene Scott is the story of how drugs can destroy lives and how this is not something that has happened recently. Set against the background of Appalachia, Jellybeaners talks about how drugs and addiction are playing hide and seek with us, always on the outskirts, but never too far away. This is definitely a cultural novel that makes you think and rethink about how and why we depend upon prescription drugs so much. Is it us who is to blame for this or someone more powerful that is destroying the minds and bodies of our nation?

Jellybeaners talks about how there is not just one party behind the destruction caused by prescription drugs. Of course, there is the money that has given life to the prescription drug culture. One thing that I really appreciated about Jellybeaners is that the story does not have one main character; the whole of society is the center here. They are the ones who are struggling with addiction to opioids so they get to have the complete attention of readers. Another thing that draws your attention is how emotional the novel is about this “pill culture” and how Gene Scott points to the facts that truly matter.

Coming to the style of writing, Gene Scott knows how to use his words and how to draw pictures in your mind. The theme of the novel is not pretty and he does not make it look like anything but reality. As the after effects of the “pill culture” are not pretty, so is this novel. His style of writing is very educating, yet it is very powerful so that you are interested in reading on. Educational and entertaining.

Sefina Hawke

Jellybeaners by Gene Scott is a cultural fiction book that is based on reality. This is a book that would appeal most to a mixed audience of young adults and adults who are interested in the nature of prescription pill addiction from the perspective of both sides of the law. Samantha Walker is the valedictorian of Kituwah Falls High School class of 2016 and the author of the fictional journal in the book. The journal was originally a project assigned to her by Mr. Stephens, but she chooses to write it with an imagined audience of both her teacher and her future children. Samantha Walker shares her life story and her view of the government, addiction, and prescription pills in the pages of her journal.

Jellybeaners by Gene Scott was a very interesting book because the facts about addiction are all true, but the story itself was fictional. I really enjoyed the combination of fact and fiction. The use of a fictional character as the journal writer made the book unique from any other book on drug addiction. I found that it was easy to be pulled into Samantha Walker’s journal because she had a very straightforward view of the world and she was not shy about sharing her views, yet at the same time she had a nice sense of humor that kept the book from becoming dry. Overall, I feel that I not only learned a lot about the prescription drug addiction culture and mind set, but that I also genuinely enjoyed reading the book! I really hope that Gene Scott decides to write more books on similar topics with this mix of fiction and factual writing style.

Jack Magnus

Jellybeaners is a Southern fiction coming-of-age novel written by Gene Scott. Samantha Walker had always enjoyed writing, but her newest assignment, which was to write a journal that Mr. Stephens, the school counselor, would read and then burn at year’s end, was a surprisingly satisfying experience. After Bo Wruck sabotaged her ride during a motocross race and left her with a broken collarbone, her death threats could have meant a stay in jail, so the journal had seemed a far better option. Bo Wruck was also writing a journal, something he had never envisioned being able to do, but he was finding that writing exactly how he spoke worked quite well. His probation officer had offered him the opportunity, and it had seemed the best way to get on with his professional racing plans. Both Sam and Bo lived in Kituwah Falls, a small historic town in rural Tennessee that had originally been a Cherokee trading post. Samantha was fascinated by history -- and not only the history of her village and her Cherokee ancestors -- she wanted to learn about the history of the country and the world. She wondered why kids were only taught the same old stories about the Mayflower and the pilgrims year after year. Sam had had a good life so far, even if she never knew her mother and her father died in the Middle East when she was very young. She had grown up alongside Jasper, her best friend, and her grandfather, Sarge, and Jasper’s dad, Cornelius, and shared with each them a love of the outdoors.

Gene Scott’s coming of age novel, Jellybeaners, follows the lives of two radically different high school seniors who just happen to be competitors in motocross. Reading their journals is a sheer delight, especially that of Sam, who is wickedly smart, funny and, at times, frighteningly perceptive. But I wouldn’t give Bo’s journal short shrift as his upbringing has been far different than Sam’s. A major theme running through this novel is the growing opioid addiction in the US, particularly in the Southeast. Through his characters, Scott charts the growth of the illicit trade conducted by so-called Pain Management Centers and the bureaucratic corruption found at all levels of government; a combination which has resulted in a sharply rising number of opioid addicts and deaths from opioid abuse. Jellybeaners is a fascinating read. I loved following Sam and Jasper as they ride along mountain roadways and plan their futures, and learning about the natural beauty found in the book’s setting. Jellybeaners is most highly recommended.