In this debut memoir, a librarian in upstate New York reflects on her alcoholic past and the sobriety she achieved during a series of personal setbacks.
The author traces the origins of her drinking problem to her rowdy undergraduate days, and shows its calamitous effects on her later personal relationships. Along the way, she provides some insights into her anxiety disorder, her deceptions and subterfuges as a high-functioning addict, and her struggle to cope with such events as the death of an elderly grandmother, a miscarriage and her dog’s medical diagnosis. Throughout, the author’s conversational prose style candidly relates her alcoholic misadventures. The memoir is most successful and genuine, however, when she writes of her ability to care for her cancer-stricken father as the greatest achievement of her recent sobriety. However, the book suffers from a disjointed narrative, full of breakneck-paced reportage and clumsily interwoven diary entries, emails and Facebook screen shots; it deals with the author’s outpatient rehab, in particular, far too quickly. The memoir sometimes has a sentimental, dramatic tone, as when the author muses on the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people: “I’m supposed to pray to God, yet He just took Grandma away? I’m supposed to pray to God yet I just miscarried?” She solves this conundrum by recognizing the “vast canyon” between herself and God and “turn[s] toward Him and tentatively [takes] His hand.” At other times, however, the memoir seems to skirt emotional engagement, as when the author reflects on her father’s prognosis: “Six months to a year to live? So weird.”
A memoir about a laudable personal triumph, hampered by awkward execution.