Teenage Degenerate

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

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. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9970175-4-0

Page Count: 252

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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