Foundational advice to steer young adults away from the urges and temptations that lead to substance abuse.



Education and parenting journalist Lahey presents a memoir of—and research-backed guide to—negotiating the world of substance abuse.

Intoxicants have been with us since the beginning of civilization, writes the author, easing “the ache of common injuries as well as the pain of being human.” In this intimate, fruitful work, she opens with a candid account of her own alcoholism before moving on to an explanation of the deleterious effects of alcohol and drugs on the developing brains of adolescents and young adults. Lahey’s foray into neurobiology is shaped by peer-reviewed journals, so the science is solid, as are her emotional and behavioral insights into mental health. In straightforward prose, the author documents the risks for the young, from ages approximately 10 to 24, including differing triggers for males and females and protective measures that can be deployed to help contend with peer pressure and other factors that may lead them to substance abuse. In addition to examining the effects of epigenetics, ADHD, and “adverse childhood experiences,” Lahey compassionately lays out the societal pressures that can result in toxic stress and aggressive behavior. She emphasizes the importance of keeping open transparent lines of communication and relying on “evidence-based information” in the fight to prevent addiction. What does not work, she points out, is a parental approach that focuses on “lies and scare tactics.” Lahey also provides recommendations such as keeping the alcohol locked up, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, avoiding “secrets and shame,” and getting a pet. Some of the author’s suggestions may not stick with hormone-soaked teens—e.g., mindfulness practice, quiet time, invoking the serenity prayer—but there’s enough here to offer a solid plan for parents. While “every substance abuse story begins at home,” Lahey also introduces inoculation theory, life-skills training, and an array of signals to watch out for during the schooling years.

Foundational advice to steer young adults away from the urges and temptations that lead to substance abuse.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-288378-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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