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by Ashley Dukart

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 2012
Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press

Dukart’s first novel follows one young man’s downward spiral of addiction.

Listless and lost, Brandon constantly looks to satiate his desires. The author establishes Brandon’s instability from the outset, emphasizing the immediate effects that sex, cigarette smoking, drinking and escalating drug use have on his psyche. At the urging of his friends, Brandon moves quickly from popping painkillers to dissolving cocaine in drinks. He then graduates from a cocaine cocktail to intravenous drug use. At first, the only thing standing in the way of Brandon’s total disintegration is his family. His brothers, Ace and Cole, know about his self-destruction and disapprove from the get-go, but there’s little they can do to stop him; they just slow him down a bit. Soon enough, Brandon starts selling drugs, and he quickly finds himself in considerable danger. Men, carrying guns, trail him in the shadows, and the police are on everyone’s tail. In a few hard-to-believe twists, he escapes with minor scratches and the police are unable to detain him for long. Dukart’s slow reveal of the motivation behind Brandon’s decline is difficult to swallow, as is the sudden reappearance of Kristine, a previous girlfriend who left him. Kristine becomes his purpose, his rock, as a series of calamitous events follow, punctuated by a brutal bout of drug withdrawal, a car accident, a coma and a hostage situation. The inclusion of such subplots increases the narrative’s momentum, but ultimately they distract from the book’s emphasis on the issue of substance abuse.

A fast read that doesn’t sufficiently plumb the nature of addiction, but it might prove entertaining for some.