A writer recounts the anguishing trial of her daughter’s heroin abuse.
Debut author Alpert took Crystal in when she was 16 years old—she was given up at birth, and was struggling to get along with her adoptive parents. She was a troubled teenager, but prospered in a new environment—she finished high school at the top of her class and graduated from college. But she began using heroin—a fact revealed to the author by Crystal’s boyfriend, Jim—a practice that quickly snowballed into an ungovernable addiction. Alpert and Jim were able to coax Crystal into a detox program and then rehab. She seemed to be on the path to recovery and was infused with a sense of purpose from motherhood—she gave birth to a daughter, Sage. But Crystal’s newfound stability proved fleeting, and she spiraled again into self-destructive addiction and finally homelessness. Alpert movingly chronicles her fraught relationship with Crystal, including the author’s repeated attempts to get her clean and, in the process, to protect Sage. Alpert candidly discusses the hard decisions she had to make as a mother—at one point, she sent, as a temporary measure in advance of another shot at detox, money to Jim to purchase small amounts of heroin for Crystal. Later, she would deny Crystal bail money when she was arrested, hoping her incarceration was an opportunity to start anew. After not seeing her daughter for years, the author then discovered she was on CNN, the subject of a story profiling heroin addicts—Crystal was both homeless and pregnant. Alpert’s account is filled with candidly conveyed heartache, an especially poignant tale because, despite her challenges, she never regretted the decision to introduce Crystal into her life. The author stirringly details her own struggle to come to grips with a persistent feeling of helplessness: “Believing I had control of any kind was giving myself way too much credit. It was always Crystal’s decision. I had not put the needle in her arm, and I would not be the one to take it out.”
A painful but beautifully conveyed tale of addiction and a mother’s commitment to a floundering child.