A retired English teacher’s debut memoir of addiction and codependence.
Romero writes that she was the daughter of an alcoholic and was raised in a dysfunctional household. She struggled with food addiction as a child and young adult, a problem that she says her perfectionist mother treated with amphetamines, resulting in a prescription-drug addiction. The author eventually achieved control over these difficulties as an adult, except in times of extreme stress; later, though, she realized that her own daughter had started using drugs. Following a divorce and years of hectic single parenthood, she attributed her daughter’s nonconformity to her artistic nature and readjustment problems related to her parents’ divorce. But after years of supporting her daughter through rehab, relapse, unwanted pregnancies, and abuse-related health problems, Romero recognized that she was enabling her daughter while neglecting her other two children. She further understood that her own feelings of guilt contributed to her codependence, and so she sought to distance herself. The “Recovery” in the subtitle refers to Romero’s own, and she proves a point by showing that her own recovery is as complete as it will ever be—essentially because she forced her daughter to be accountable for herself. After engaging with her daughter’s story, readers will naturally be curious about whether she stayed sober, as well. Romero’s generally well-written, sympathetic story will be relatable to those who have dealt with addiction, and those with less personal experience may gain a greater understanding of it. Romero’s and her daughter’s stories are truly heart-wrenching, as the former watches her talented, creative offspring descend into a world of prostitution and addiction. The narrative is occasionally repetitive, as in the continual references to Romero’s father’s alcoholism. The author also sometimes mentions past events but doesn’t explain them in detail (“Her face was still healing from the burns she had gotten freebasing crack cocaine back in October”). Where she really excels is in detailing her own feelings of culpability: “My guilt gave her illness power over me. It kept me enabling her, pandering to her needs, protecting her from the consequences of her choices.”
An often poignant recollection that details the demon of addictive behavior.