A troubled man from the Pacific Northwest grapples with sex and drug addiction in this candid, auspicious debut memoir.
At the age of 5, Adreon had already begun experimenting with his sexuality. Touching a schoolmate “created confusion and shame even though we explored each other in innocence.” Shortly after, however, a manipulative baby sitter introduced him to other, less benign sexual encounters as well as abused him emotionally. Unsure how to process let alone communicate his experiences, young Adreon internalized it all, believing he was an outcast with nothing to turn to but the liquor cabinet of a friend’s father. By his teen years, Adreon channeled his escalating anger into aggression while playing sports and generating chaos at school. Alcohol and drugs provided temporary escape and supplemented his social and sexual deviance at a time when his parents’ marriage was crumbling. “The real trouble began,” he explains, “when drugs, alcohol, girls, and rebellion combined with the onset of a Chemical imbalance.” At 13, after an attempted suicide, Adreon was admitted to an inpatient adolescent treatment facility, where he met both angels of hope—including his roommate Alfred, a tattooed Crip whose unlikely compassion encouraged Eric’s emotional expression—and demons that drove him to even greater self-destruction. The ensuing years included imprisonment, homelessness, meth houses and various institutions, not to mention battles with PTSD, ADD and bipolar disorder. Honest and penitent, Adreon’s patient, Zen-like voice is saturated with poetry and hope, a testament in itself to his eventual triumph. After turning to creativity and spirituality while incarcerated, he “transformed into an ageless being unhindered by the world that hovered like a hazy halo just beyond my consciousness.” Though filled with countless characters, engaging moments and readable prose, at over 500 pages, this memoir contains more telling than showing, often begging for more action. Regardless, Adreon’s shadowy youth is a moving depiction of deep friendship, faith and therapy in a strange, terrifying realm that seems nearly impossible for its inhabitants to escape.
The heartfelt reclamation of a man who’s been to and returned from emotional, chemical and sexual hell.