LONG WAY HOME by Cameron Douglas


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“I was a hard case, and it seems like I needed to learn my lesson the hard way”: an affecting memoir of crime and punishment by a son of actor Michael Douglas.

The author grew up between well-to-do households where it was a party trick for him as a child to pass a joint among the beautiful people. By the age of 25, he was injecting cocaine three times an hour while realizing that “the worst-case scenario has already happened,” his opportunities in the show-business world long since tossed away. The worst case, though, had yet to develop: in and out of rehab, as well as the penal system, proceeding from juvenile detention to time in a federal prison full of warring racial factions, all brought on by a fierce addiction to heroin and a drug-selling operation meant to support it. Tough love on the part of family and friends along the way didn’t help; as Douglas writes, “my dynamic with Dad is seething frustration on his part and wounded sensitivity on mine." The author’s account is consistently unadorned, perhaps overly so, as when he describes the unpleasant odor of marijuana smuggled into the yard inside an inmate’s body cavity and the various acts of violence and resistance that can get a person thrown into an isolation unit as opposed to remaining in the general population. Douglas himself didn’t engage in much of this bad behavior, scorning the thought of having “spent my time in protective custody because I was afraid to walk the yard at a higher-security.” In the end, however, he came to the realization that there wasn’t much more he could learn from running gambling and cigarette operations inside the walls and concentrated on getting himself straight: “I finally saw that heroin didn’t fit with my new priorities, and finally stopped doing it.”

A tale full of horrors and redemption—an ideal text for scaring young at-risk youth straight.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-525-52083-2
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2019