What it’s about: The opioid crisis in America, how it started, and why it is only going to get worse.
What made me pick it up: I was having yet another bitch session with a friend about not-even-Appalachia-adjacent author J.D. Vance and how his only solution for the opioid crisis is an offhand “it’s the addict’s own fault” and they should “pull themselves up by the bootstraps”. Then my friend said if I want to read an actual good book about actual Appalachia, I should pick up Dopesick.
My favorite parts: This book is nothing but heartbreaking from start to finish. I cried a LOT. After everything that has been done to Appalachia by Big Coal to then have them taken advantage of by Big Pharma was too much. The reporting here is excellent. The unlayering of the onion is well done by the author and I couldn’t put it down. But what she’s describing is horrific and worsening and its epicenter is just a couple hours from where I live in my beloved adopted state. As someone who was employed in a public library for years as this epidemic built, and saw the adoption of library staff-administered Narcan treatment, I know something needs to change. I have humanities degrees. I should not be the front line against this drug problem. And addicts should not need me to be. What confounded me most was the stubborn adherence to abstinence-only addiction treatment that science says fails with this type of addiction. Other countries know it fails is why there are methadone clinics everywhere else but rarely here. The author doesn’t have a lot of suggestions for battling the drug’s presence, but does have recommendations to be made about treatment. And we should listen. If we do, maybe we can lose fewer lives. This book will leave you feeling grateful for all the recovering addicts you still have in your life and heartbroken for all those lives missing due to heroin. Because we all know at least one.
Originally published in: 2013- English translation, the original German version was published in 2009.
What’s it about: A graphic memoir tracing one woman’s adventures traveling Italy illegally in the summer of 1984 with a friend as a 17-year-old Austrian punk with no money, no papers, and no plan.
What made me pick it up: This was new to our library and, as always, I couldn’t turn down a graphic memoir.
My favorite things: The author mixes in a few excerpts from her journals and letters that she wrote during the summer she was traveling, which makes her story feel more authentic. I appreciated how frank and honest she was about all of her experiences – no matter how painful or how many laws she happened to be breaking at the time.
Who it’s great for: Fans of gritty travel memoirs; graphic memoirs.
What it’s about: A sweet Christmas tale about a recovering heroin addict getting his life back together with the help of his feline pal. James let’s you see him struggle through the holiday season to find meaning and realize how great his life really is.
My favorite things: I enjoyed the reminder that it’s not how much you have but who you have in your life that makes it great, especially during the holiday season. It also has a strong thread of giving is better than getting, which I appreciated. Mostly, James has a way of telling his story so you root for him to keep holding it together after all he has overcome, and hope the same for other addicts and recovering addicts everywhere.
Who it’s great for: Readers interested in a heart warming tale. Cat fans. Anyone who has ever had a pet that chose them.