Recovering alcoholic Stevens (The Devil Speaks Louder: We Stood at the Turning Point, 2014) returns with a series installment that offers a similar message in a much more insistent format.
In this second book in The Devil Speaks Louder series, the author returns to his theme of the damage that alcohol and drugs cause not just to addicts, but also to those around them. The series’ first book, he writes, was aimed at a middle school audience and was written while he was in recovery. This new volume, written while Stevens was in the midst of an extended relapse, is much darker than its predecessor, reflecting his mindset at the time. As he explains in his introduction: “My mental state ebbed and flowed during its construction. For most of it, I was not a sane man.” At the center of this novel is Jason “Jay” Braswell, a second-generation alcoholic who’s learned little from the events of the last novel, which saw his best friend imprisoned following a fatal drunken driving accident. Sitting around his apartment, Jason “drank beer maniacally, absorbed only by three hastily-devoured freezer-burned meat byproduct patties and potato paste.” Later, he gets deeply involved with drugs, and Stevens incisively details what happens to the others who get caught in the vortex of Jay’s addiction: his girlfriend, Abby; her relatively straight-arrow crush, Jamie; a porn producer/drug dealer; and a recovering alcoholic police officer. These supporting characters all ring true, and Stevens effectively paints a gruesome picture of Jay’s decline: “He lay in the tub, head lolled to one side, caked rivulets of white sputum resembling fangs traced down from the corners of his stupidly-open mouth.” His is a graphic, scared-straight approach, and his novel may succeed in stopping some readers from reaching for another drink. Stevens is a man on a mission, and his series shines a bright light on a problem that often thrives in the dark.
A shocking cautionary tale that skillfully tackles the realities of substance abuse.