Meant to scare kids straight, this sobering journey shows the unremitting personal hell that results when a teen dies from...




In this debut book, a mother recounts the devastating legacy of her son’s drug use and death.

One day in February 2014, the author and her husband busted down the bedroom door of their 19-year-old son Danny’s room to discover him slumped over his desk, dark blue, swollen, and dead of a drug overdose. “I want to scream at every kid in the world—STOP THIS NOW!” Lajterman writes. Part lamentation, part angry shriek, this account warns teenagers, their parents, families, schools, and advocates against the terrible consequences of drug use. The author makes no distinction as to the drug. In her view, all drugs and alcohol end in one place—death and its awful repercussions, which include wave after wave of negative effects on family and friends, a seemingly never-ending poisonous cycle from which there is no relief. This small volume clearly unmasks the brutality, the horror, and the relentless pain caused when a kid dies from an overdose. Not a guide to drug abuse and recovery, not advice for troubled families, this title squarely targets young people who either want to experiment with drugs or have already begun messing with them, announcing only one goal: to tell the unvarnished truth about the consequences of substance abuse. Young folks lured by drugs never think about the mother whose son has died from drugs and whose mourning never ends, or the father who years after his child’s funeral weeps in the shower every day so that other members of the family won’t hear his sobbing. Or the sister who keeps her brother’s room exactly as it was the day he died. Now, the teens who read this heart-rending book will—or at least that’s the author’s hope. Written in direct, no-nonsense prose, this difficult work tears away at the lies readers tell themselves to hide from the ugly truths this tragic account reveals.

Meant to scare kids straight, this sobering journey shows the unremitting personal hell that results when a teen dies from an overdose.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-26088-3

Page Count: 94

Publisher: WAT-AGE Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.


Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A miscellany of paternal pride (and frustration) darkened by the author’s increasing realizations of his mortality.


Ruminations and reminiscences of an author—now in his 70s—about fatherhood, writing, and death.

O’Brien (July, July, 2002, etc.), who achieved considerable literary fame with both Going After Cacciato (1978) and The Things They Carried (1990), returns with an eclectic assembly of pieces that grow increasingly valedictory as the idea of mortality creeps in. (The title comes from the author’s uncertainty about his ability to assemble these pieces in a single volume.) He begins and ends with a letter: The initial one is to his first son (from 2003); the terminal one, to his two sons, both of whom are now teens (the present). Throughout the book, there are a number of recurring sections: “Home School” (lessons for his sons to accomplish), “The Magic Show” (about his long interest in magic), and “Pride” (about his feelings for his sons’ accomplishments). O’Brien also writes often about his own father. One literary figure emerges as almost a member of the family: Ernest Hemingway. The author loves Hemingway’s work (except when he doesn’t) and often gives his sons some of Papa’s most celebrated stories to read and think and write about. Near the end is a kind of stand-alone essay about Hemingway’s writings about war and death, which O’Brien realizes is Hemingway’s real subject. Other celebrated literary figures pop up in the text, including Elizabeth Bishop, Andrew Marvell, George Orwell, and Flannery O’Connor. Although O’Brien’s strong anti-war feelings are prominent throughout, his principal interest is fatherhood—specifically, at becoming a father later in his life and realizing that he will miss so much of his sons’ lives. He includes touching and amusing stories about his toddler sons, about the sadness he felt when his older son became a teen and began to distance himself, and about his anguish when his sons failed at something.

A miscellany of paternal pride (and frustration) darkened by the author’s increasing realizations of his mortality.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-618-03970-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet