How To Grow An Addict

How To Grow An Addict by J.A. Wright. Berkeley:She Writes Press, 2015. 295 pages. *****

Randall Grange  has been tricked into admitting herself into a treatment center and isn't quite sure what she is doing there with the others because she only used drugs or alcohol to make herself feel okay. Randall's childhood gives new meaning to a dysfunctional family. Randall started stealing things at the age of seven and knew how to mix her father's drinks, just the way he liked them by the age of 8. In the third grade, she found out that she had a half-sister who just happened to be her teacher and in fourth grade she was shoplifting extracts and flavorings and soaking toothpicks in them   rather than chewing on her finger nails. Randall loved her Aunt Flo and Uncle Hank more than her own alcoholic father and detached mother, they were a stabilizing force in her life and loved her unconditionally. Randall's life was forever changed when Uncle Hank dies and Aunt Flo marries Reverend Bob, who seems to have a penchant for young girls, especially Randall. In therapy Randall realizes that she blames herself for her father's and Uncle Hank's deaths.  The pills and the booze help her sleep and it pisses her off that she is referred to as an alcoholic when she really preferred pills.

When I started reading this book, I thought it was a memoir rather than fiction. A riveting story of how a young girl by reasons of her circumstances and role models embraces a life of booze and pills. Seeking acceptance and love, she is willing to suppress her feelings and self-medicate. What is truly amazing about this story is the humor that carries the seriousness of the subject and in some ways, the ordinariness of the family and extended family members. The title is absolutely perfect for this story. Anyone who is a member of a large boisterous family will relate to the family gatherings and interactions. Well-written and so easy to be drawn into Randall's story and hard to put down once started.

I received an Advance Reader Copy for a review.

J.A. Wright was raised in the Pacific Northwest and moved to New Zealand in 1990. With more than thirty years in recovery from drug addiction, she's been crafting this novel for years.

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