THE LIGHT YEARS by Chris Rush
Kirkus Star

THE LIGHT YEARS

A Memoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A dazzling debut memoir from artist and designer Rush.

Growing up in a strict Roman Catholic family in New Jersey, the author felt both trapped and adrift as a child, a feeling exacerbated by his neglectful mother and alcoholic father, who was “a dark planet, exerting only vague astrological influence on his offspring.” Introduced to drugs, especially LSD, early on by his loving hippie sister, Donna, Rush continued to chafe under his suburban adolescence before finally setting out on a remarkable journey into the counterculture and across America, from his hometown to the wilderness of the Southwest. By the age of 13, he writes, “I took LSD as often as possible. Taking acid was like entering a painting of a storybook—a glowing dream world, lush and lovely. I felt no conflict between the real and the unreal. It was so easy to slip in between.” In sparkling, lucid prose that perfectly captures the joy, depression, anger, and wonder that characterized his adventures, the author recounts the seemingly endless hills and valleys of his unique tale. Among others, these experiences included countless days getting stoned in his parents’ basement, avoiding his dysfunctional parents; a stint in boarding school, where he became the primary drug dealer on campus; time living with Donna and a group of her friends on a drug compound in rural Arizona; enduring a shocking act of violence; and some weeks living a feral life in caves scattered around the deserts of the West. Along the way, while struggling with significant substance abuse (“sometimes I’d shoot up with…customers who craved a speechless high, who wanted to grow dim with me, become sputtering candles in the dark”) and grappling with his sexuality, Rush continued to draw, an artistic spark that took years to ignite into a career. He also suffered a near overdose. Though the narrative ends on a slight uptick, the author refreshingly avoids tying his story up with a pretty bow, and readers will wish for more from this talented writer.

A captivating, psychedelically charged coming-of-age memoir.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-374-29441-0
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2019




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