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Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
What does it take to be clean again after years of drug abuse? For William James, it could mean getting as far away as possible from one’s immediate environment, steering away from friends, and starting a new life. That is why the twenty-two-year-old man leaves his teaching job at Buffalo high school and sets out on an odyssey to Mexico, hoping to find redemption. But this could have been the most unlikely place to go because the worst forms of temptation seem to await him in Mexico, with its drug business, bad company, hot bars, and a lot more. William finds himself plunging helplessly into the depths of the very thing he’s been trying to run away from. But things change in an encounter with a woman. Understanding the Alacran by Jonathan LaPoma is a brilliant story that explores the evil of drugs, a man’s struggle for freedom, and redemption through love.
In a very unique and accessible style, Jonathan LaPoma unveils the beauty of Mexico and crafts a setting that readers will fall in love with. The story is filled with breathtaking descriptions of scenes, places, and paragraphs that capture the Mexican culture with vivid clarity. The protagonist will speak powerfully to readers who suffer from an addiction. I could relate to him because I know the pain of being attached to an addiction and how hard it can be, struggling to get free from it. I enjoyed the author’s exploration of the power of love, something he puts above the sheer power of human will. Understanding the Alacran is a book that is very interesting. Well-crafted with a huge conflict that escalates and animates the fast-paced plot. The finish is awesome.