A young memoirist recounts her descent into and triumph over addiction.
Smith arrived in New York City in 1997, fresh from high school in Danville, Pa. A natural on the stage, she came to the Big Apple to pursue her dreams of acting. But before she could be discovered, she discovered Ecstasy. The first pill she popped was a Mitsubishi, purchased from a dealer who looked like a J. Crew model and swallowed in the bathroom of McSwiggans Pub on Second Avenue. All of the sudden, the beer bottles glistened “like lights on a Christmas tree,” Smith’s skin turned to silk, and simply placing her palm on the top of the bar felt profound. She was hooked. Meanwhile, life in Manhattan rolled on. There were sublets to find, singing lessons to take, and kids to baby-sit. Smith fell head over heels for Mason, a Manhattanite home on winter break from a Vermont college. Then came the crash. She was plagued by panic attacks and nightmares about her father killing her family. Her period stopped; she occasionally flew into rages. Eventually, Smith got herself into rehab. She broke her addiction and quickly became an MTV-touted anti-drug spokeswoman. At the close here, she tells us that she’s been clean for four years, and now gets “high on life.” As that last cliché indicates, Smith’s writing is uneven. Her descriptions of how good the highs feel are riveting. One wishes, however, that her editor had axed the poems. (“One pill has dissolved / Chills surge through my core / Before it wears off / I swallow one more.”) And her rapturous prose about her love for Mason tends toward the sophomoric: “I knew he was my soul mate . . . .When I looked into his eyes, I felt like I had known him my whole life.”
Not refined, wise or gritty enough to touch all readers, but likely to be a hit with teenagers and 20-somethings.