CHANCERS by Susan Stellin


Addiction, Prison, Recovery, Love: One Couple's Memoir
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The unconventional love story between an emerging author and the troubled man she discovers to be a hard-core drug addict.

Journalist Stellin (How to Travel Practically Anywhere, 2006) and photographer MacIndoe co-narrate their journey from their first flirtatious interaction to his release years later from a short prison term on drug charges and the restarting of their life together. Stellin first met the Scottish MacIndoe in 2002 at a Montauk summer share house; they reunited in 2005 when she was in need of an author photo for a commissioned travel guidebook. Their attraction swiftly became an “obsessive, indulgent connection, which excluded the rest of the world,” as poetic emails were romantically exchanged and a spontaneous trip to Hawaii brought them even closer. During that trip, MacIndoe, an unsuccessfully detoxed addict, had been rationing sips of methadone and cloaking light drug use from Stellin. As his casual fixes regenerated into the full-blown “dark hole” of heroin and crack he’d battled prior to meeting Stellin, MacIndoe’s physical appearance and erratic, quick-tempered behavior revealed voracious dependency that both sabotaged his relationship and landed him at Rikers Island. Stellin’s painful indecision about the fate of their relationship and MacIndoe’s desperate drug-chasing, regret, and resolution to enter rehab are revealed in thoughtful, carefully crafted chapters brimming with personal details and sentiments. Written with great dexterity and fairness, both authors narrate from their individualized perspectives, vacillating over the blooming of their passion and the painful heartbreak and incremental deterioration of their romance. While long-winded in sections, both sides are elegantly and tactfully interpreted. Stellin’s sections are the most compelling, as she wrestles with loving a junkie, respecting herself, and navigating the red tape and legal confusion of MacIndoe’s prison sentence. Emotionally resonant and evenly structured, their tandem chronicle resists overly romanticizing their bittersweet interactions to focus on the dedication and devotion necessary to make their already-complicated relationship survive the fallout of critical hardships.

An emotionally complex and intensely personal binary memoir of addiction and sustainable love.

Pub Date: June 7th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-101-88274-0
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2016


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