A heroin addict swings from rock bottom to stable in this novella.
Briones’ (Jane Doe: Gutted, 2013) series continues with the brief story of Miranda Anders, a woman whose childhood traumas and unfortunate friendships lead her into a lifetime struggle with heroin addiction. It all begins, of course, with her family: her father, Harry, is an “adrenaline junkie” who spends weeks away on skiing trips, and her plastic surgery– and sex-addicted mother, Virginia, sleeps around in his absence. One of Virginia’s partners includes Ted, Harry’s twin brother, who molests Miranda. Ted dies in a horrific car accident and Virginia commits suicide; and shortly afterward, Miranda steals thousands from her father and falls in with a junkie named Luke. Miranda soon finds herself living beneath an overpass, pickpocketing rich women in fancy restaurants. Doing this work she meets Sully, a proprietor of medieval-themed eateries, who somehow never worries too much about her unexplained past. They fall in love and get married within a paragraph: “The storybook marriage mirrored one of the paintings of Lancelot and Guinevere hanging in the lobby of his medieval restaurant. All perfect, all loving and soon including the addition of a son. Sully had found true happiness with Miranda. She too had found a true love. Except for her secret. Heroin.” Never mind the problematic illusion: Sully supports Miranda through her relapses, finding her good rehab facilities and eventually a good doctor, who diagnoses her with PTSD and a host of other illnesses (including Lyme disease and HIV). Briones, a medical doctor, uses these illnesses to explain Miranda’s behavior, and though her intention to inform trauma survivors of the natures of these conditions is positive, the diagnoses and miraculous cures make for an unsatisfying, too easy conclusion. Briones’ penchant for summarizing long stories over providing concrete scenes, her multiplication of incomplete side characters (such as the hospital’s doctors and homeless outreach volunteers), and her lack of deviation from a typical addiction narrative will invite further dissatisfaction with this story.
Addiction is complex; this story is not.