Teenage Degenerate by S.C. Sterling

Teenage Degenerate

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sterling’s debut memoir details his addiction to crystal meth in the 1990s.

“The first time I did crystal methamphetamine I was nineteen,” writes the author as he begins his story, which takes place over 10 months in 1996 and 1997. (Some names and dates in the story have been changed, according to the author’s note.) In these diarylike entries, the author was a high school graduate with no real ambition; he lived in Littleton, Colorado, near Denver, with his parents and worked as a grocery clerk for near-minimum wage. He had a girlfriend, Leah, and a group of friends, including Jake, Mark, Craig, and Tony, with whom he hung out in his small, suburban town. Sterling and his friends went to parties and concerts—readers who are fans of the 1990s alternative scene will find their favorites within—and drugs were a constant throughout. As the author became more and more dependent on meth, his life began to crumble; he quit his job, broke up with his girlfriend, and spent his time either high or coming off of benders. After further attempts to hold onto jobs failed, he eventually became a drug dealer; he then lost his friends, alienated his family, started going broke, and approached rock bottom, or, as “a tweaker at a party” called it, his “wrecking point.” Sterling’s descriptions of his experiences while high are vivid and often disturbing, and he isn’t afraid to show the lengths to which addicts will go for one more fix. However, the overall story arc isn’t as compelling as it could be; readers never get to really see what the author was like before his addiction, so his sinking to new moral lows is rarely shocking. Some of the book’s pop-culture references seem a bit too on the nose, such as when the author watches the overdose scene from the movie Pulp Fiction while having a drug-induced panic attack. But despite these missteps, there’s enough action in the second half of the book to make for a quick, compelling read.

An unflinching, often effective story about the torments of drug dependence.

Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-9970175-4-0
Page count: 252pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
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