A somewhat-repetitive remembrance, but one that powerfully captures the feeling of addiction.

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SWIMMING IN ADDICTION

A drug addict-turned-therapist chronicles her journey in this debut memoir.

Holly was a crack-cocaine user for 16 years, and her dependency on the drug contributed to the destruction of two marriages and led to suicide attempts and hospitalization in a psychiatric ward. After achieving sobriety, she earned a master’s degree in psychology and turned toward helping others recover from addiction. In this work, she offers an unflinching remembrance of her life in “crack hell,” with the goal of sharing her story with a wider audience and coming to terms with her drug-ravaged early years: “There are moments when the thought crosses my mind of erasing some if not all of my past,” Holly writes. “But without this disturbing past who would I be today?” The author grew up in a Connecticut housing project. “As a family we had a lot of fun,” she recalls, though there were dark undercurrents of disharmony; her father’s Sunday drinking escalated into a ritual, and her mother, on one occasion, beat her with an extension cord, she says. She entered adulthood with a poor self-image, magnified by feelings of body shame. She started experimenting with marijuana, and later tried crack: “It felt like a ride on a rocket headed towards the stars,” she writes of the first time. “Ecstasy traveled from my head to my toes without missing space in between the two.” Holly is particularly effective at conveying the craving that made her a “full time slave to crack,” devoting most every waking moment to “chasing the dragon.” But the account of her almost-daily encounters with crack gets tedious at times, and she’s somewhat vague about the roots of her addiction, touching only fleetingly on parental neglect, genetics, and poor self-image. Ultimately, however, she shows how she recognized that “What was bad were the choices [I] made,” and that now, at least, she’s made a better choice—“not to relapse. My life has not been perfected.”

A somewhat-repetitive remembrance, but one that powerfully captures the feeling of addiction.

Pub Date: July 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5151-2706-2

Page Count: 232

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2017

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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