Amy Lance, in A Dark Road, has created an engaging teen romance that is deceptively simple on the surface, but has a dark heart. It’s a quick and satisfying read with snappy dialogue and the melodrama of young people in an imperfect world. The moral challenges that break families and friendships are exposed gradually as the bright and promising protagonists, Hadley and McKay, deal with the consequences of McKay’s meth business. Young readers will recognize the culture, language, and day-to-day business of high school. The setting is rural Pennsylvania, not very diverse racially, but the author suggests that economic disparities play a role in drug culture. A lot of chemistry is explained, and the danger inherent in “cooking” methamphetamine creates a menacing backdrop for the budding romance. The effects of McKay’s products on his “customers” are realistically portrayed, but the tone is not preachy, and that’s a good thing. The focus of the narrative is the romance and its potential for tragedy, but it also touches on broader societal issues around meth manufacture and use in rural America.