Just finished another great summer read. Easy, quick, and an ethical/moral dilemma type of book based on addiction to prescription pills. All too common in America today.
Allison Weiss is a pretty typical suburban Philadelphia wife and mother. She and her husband Dave have a little girl who is 5 years old named Eloise (Ellie). Ellie can be a handful but is the love of their lives. Allison has a job she loves, writing for a womens blog, and a huge house outside the city. Dave is a journalist for a major Philadelphia newspaper.
One day, Allison is in the waiting room of Ellie's pediatrician, flipping through a women's magazine and begins to read a quiz on addictions. This makes her pause. And think. She begins to take the quiz, quickly realizing she might have a problem. But...she continues to justify the pill popping because her doctors have prescribed it for past back issues and wisdom teeth removal and she thinks to herself "Is a Percocet at the end of a hard day really different from a glass of wine?"
Over the course of the next few months, Allison begins to rely more and more on her various prescriptions to get her through her day. It is one of the first things she reaches for in the morning! Soon, she is ordering pills online through a sketchy company and has to set up a private money account to handle her spending. She "borrows" money from the cash drawer at work, and she lies to Dave and to her mother about various things. Even her precious daughter begins to wonder what is wrong with Mommy.
Because life seems to be going too fast and stressful for Allison, with a difficult to handle child, an emotionally distant husband whose best friend at work is a woman he has lunch with often, and emails, a needy mother who can't seem to ever cope with her own life, and a father who was just diagnosed with Alzheimer's,s she continues to take pills, often 4 at a time!!
One day she also drinks a glass of wine with them, and that is when her life begins to really unravel. The teacher at Ellie's school notices that Allison is "not right' when she arrives to pick up Ellie and her friends to take them home. Mrs Dale shares with Allison the dangers of addiction, relating her own niece's sad story of an overdose on prescription pills.
Allison does not believe she has a problem. And then one day Dave approaches her with evidence of her online shopping. He brings her to Meadowcrest, a rehab center where she begins to face the reality that yes, she is an addict.
I really enjoyed this story, and it totally drew me in. I think I was drawn to it, because I have had several friends confide in me that their child has become addicted to something and I have had relatives who have struggled with various addictions. This book is a "wake up" call for those of you who don't believe this happens in suburban America. In fact, it is such a problem that now, here in New York State, doctors are no longer allowed to write out prescriptions. They must be called or emailed in to the pharmacy. I remember the days when my doctor would just casually write me yet another prescription for the painkiller for my back (which didn't work anyways). Thankfully, I was never tempted to keep taking them after the first day, since 1. they didn't work! and 2. I didn't want to rely on meds nor did I want those chemicals going into my body. But...it is a HUGE problem for many people.
I loved the character development but I was frustrated that the author was describing a little girl with sensory disorder issues, yet not calling it that. Perhaps, to her credit, she doens't know about sensory disorder yet the description fit. Just a small thing that bugged me. I felt like if she gave Ellie that diagnoses, it would help Allison in learning how to cope with her.
The book is very realistic and it makes you realize just how common this type of addiction is for people and how easy it is to hide this particular addiction.
I loved meeting the other addicted women in the story and hearing their stories.
One thing that touched me, was that Allison's mom was described as a certain way in the beginning of the book, but is like a totally different person by the end of the book. I don't want to share too much on here to ruin it for you, but the transformation is very symbolic.
One thing that was very sad to me, but not surprising, was the idea of God being the One who causes all the bad/evil in the world. The author clearly doesn't know God.......or doesn't know that it is the Evil One (Satan) who runs rampant in our world or that many of life's wrongs are due to consequences of actions/generational issues, etc.
She DOES include God in the recovery process (as well as a "Higher Power") as she includes the typical Twelve Step program during rehab. I did like that part and felt like it was very realistic.
But, in some ways, it is too perfect. Yes, it deals with an American white, upper middle-class suburban mom with an addiction. But...it kind of leaves me feeling like this topic, which is NOT trite, is just skimming the surface. The author never really gets into the deeper issues surrounding why Allison really reaches for pills.....long after her back and wisdom teeth are healed.
The ending is good.....it leaves you with a sense of hope for Allison, Ellie and Dave. yet......what about the other addicts.....it is almost like the author "makes fun of" the poor, young, inner city type people who are addicted to the stronger drugs (Cocaine, heroin). And that doesn't sit well with me. I'm glad the author addressed this issue in suburban white America....but....life doesn't always end in such a perfect way. Therefore, yes, the ending is predictable. So typical of this kind of literature.
In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to mature content).
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this an 8.