A divorced, alcoholic mother finds her way into a fairy tale in which the promise of her young son’s love helps her defeat naysayers and overcome her demons, finally.
Like most women, freelance journalist Cadence feels pressure: pressure from her mother, her sister, her son, her ex-mother-in-law, herself. She must be a good mommy. She must be perfect. Overwhelmed, she begins drinking more each night. But now she has committed one of the worst mommy sins: She’s fallen into an alcoholic stupor in front of her 5-year-old son, Charlie. To the rescue come Martin, her cold, workaholic ex-husband, who whisks Charlie out of her life, and Jess, her capable younger sister, who plops her into the hospital’s psych ward. Set adrift from her son, unable to write through her wet brain, Cadence must begin a journey through detox, rehab and AA. Along the way, as in any good fairy tale, she confronts obstacles (the sneering Mommy Mafia), exposes family secrets (grandma used to drink, too) and endures trials (watching other people drink). Yet she also finds true friends and perhaps true love. With the help of her new friends, Cadence begins to see addiction not as a moral failing but as a coping mechanism. Whether we use food, drink, work or cigarettes, we all try to escape. As Cadence’s counselor points out, it’s just “Different behavior, same compulsion.”
With some unsettling descriptions of despair, Hatvany keeps this potentially harrowing story lighthearted and hopeful.