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July 31, 2015 / Melanie Rosson

At Risk by Alice Hoffman

hoffman, alice - at risk(thumbs_side) Even though this book was written the year I was born, it still rings true towards the attitude of the public about AIDs.

This follows the family of a young girl who contracts AIDs through a blood transfusion. All characters are referred to in the third person and there is a lot of character development.

Unfortunately, when everyone finds out about the child’s diagnosis, there is panic among the town. Kids are pulled out of the school she goes to, she and her brother lose friends. All this social stigma whilst she and her family are battling the tragedy of her illness.

I love the theme of the book, but it is harder for me to relate to – partly because there are no characters in my age and maturity group, and partly because it is in a time before modern technologies. Also, with everything being told in the third person, it is hard for me to feel close to the characters – plus, it is a shorter novel.

July 30, 2015 / Melanie Rosson

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown

brown, janelle - all we wanted was everything(thumbs_down) Most of this book is depressing and very intense. But like a bad accident or dramatic fight in public, you can’t stop watching – or in this case, reading.

I had this on audiobook and couldn’t stop listening to it, even though it was very sad and disturbing. It seems like the biggest problems a person can think of were all touched upon in this book by the character’s experiences: financial struggles, sexuality, substance abuse, pregnancy, affair, career ending, deception, etc… and there’s only 3 main characters!

Two sisters and their mother are trying to pull through after the father – overnight – earns a fortune with his pharmaceutical company; he therein immediately drops their family. He has tricked the mother out of benefiting from his riches, and treats his daughters as nothing but pests in his life.

All through this, each sister and the mother have their own very dramatic issues to deal with along with this. They mostly keep at all secret from each other, but everything gets exposed in the end. Only with that exposure can they move on to a brighter future.

I liked that it had a happy ending – thank god. But I felt tortured reading through all the craziness in this book. It was emotionally draining. Even though it got my attention, I can’t say I enjoyed the book.

July 30, 2015 / Melanie Rosson

Dying to Survive by Rachael Keogh

keogh, rachael - dying to survive(thumbs_up) If you were told you were going to have a limb amputated if you kept doing a habit, would you stop? Rachael wouldn’t.

Keogh explores her development and relationship with drugs, as well as her background in a city infested with them. She is led to crime because of her desperation to feed her addiction. She has a great support system with tons of people willing to give her anything she needs to quit, but she’s not in the mindset to do it. She goes through rehabs, ends up in hospitals, or gets dragged to jail cells.

The media raises awareness of her heroin addiction and the havoc it was doing to her body (she was going to need both arms amputated if she kept injecting). Eventually, with yet another chance given to her, she is finally ready for it.

This is probably the best memoir I’ve read on heroin addiction.

July 1, 2015 / Melanie Rosson

White Out: The Secret Life of Heroin by Michael W. Clune

clune, michael w - white out( thumbs_up ) This book reminds me of A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. It’s dark and somewhat poetic with the writing. However, it is also hard to follow at times. The author calls heroin addiction “the memory disease”.

It is another one of your typical addiction stories but written with special attention focused on the kind of drug heroin is.

The author compares it to other drugs feelings and effects on the body and mind. Some addiction memoirs don’t focus on the drug itself enough, but more on the addiction disease. This book goes into both with a perfect balance.

May 27, 2015 / Melanie Rosson

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

walls, jeannette - the glass castle(thumbs_up) Poverty and intelligence can breed creativity. Walls grew up in a grossly poor family whose values did not include knowing where they would get their next meal.

Her father was an alcoholic, but a genius, and her mother an emotional wreck of an artist. Her brother and sisters were each unique in their own way, but all were trying to survive their crazy upbringing.

The book starts off in a scene when the author is 3 years old and spilled boiling water on herself when trying to cook. It’s a great attention-grabber for the first chapter, and shows you how weird and challenging her childhood was.

It’s really an inspirational story of how she pulled herself out of the wreckage of her past. It just goes to show our parents and family don’t define who we are or what we’ll become.

May 3, 2015 / Melanie Rosson

Pill Head by Joshua Lyon

lyon, joshua - pill head( thumbs_up ) I’ve never read a memoir of a pain pill addict, but I can’t imagine one being any more informative or engrossing as this.

This author did his research – BEFORE he became clean. I can’t even guarantee he is clean now, only that he has researched the harms and benefits of his abuse to the nth degree. It doesn’t seem to be progressing him anywhere, but it’s so interesting reading about the research going into addiction studies, etc. For example, naloxone.

This author is well-written, highly detailed, and very attention-grabbing. He details stories with other addicts, not just his own. It’s really interesting. Give it a read!

May 2, 2015 / Melanie Rosson

A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown

brown, cupcake - a piece of cake( thumbs_up ) My god, if you want a memoir that packs it all in one book, this would be your go-to. This book describes what can only be considered a miracle for where the author is now.

From poverty to racism, prostitution, gangs, abuse, addiction, and everything in between – this memoir contains everything.

Cupcake Brown watched her mother die, became a foster child in many abusive households, and ran away multiple times. It wasn’t long before drugs and street crime filled her life. Soon she joined a gang, and experienced what it was like to get shot. Speaking to her higher power, she soon found “coincidences” that led her to better opportunities. She did not waste them. She got a job, but still fought addiction. After rehab was she only able to flourish through school and become an inspiring lawyer.

A great book that I had trouble putting down.

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