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In My Skin: A Memoir

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  3,141 Ratings  ·  250 Reviews
Holden presents a frank, harrowing account of her descent into heroin addiction and prostitution, and the long, arduous struggle to redeem her life that made her stronger.
Paperback, 285 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Arcade Publishing (first published August 29th 2005)
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Petra Eggs
There aren't many books by middle-class, highly-literate university graduates on being drug-addicted streetwalkers, this may be unique.

The author becomes addicted to heroin by accident, just trying it and loving it. She eventually descends through all the levels of hell to being thrown out of her home and walking the streets to sell sex enough to get money for drugs.

She describes all this in a dispassionate voice, but an involved one all the same. She doesn't beg for for our sympathy at her pli
Update 2016: Again, I've just been reminded of this, one of my all-time favourite books, which I still don't have a copy of. But I'm also reminded that I'd like to add a link to another favourite, also Aussie, also well-written and also not for the faint-hearted, Candy by Luke Davies. And as I recall, both take place in and around Melbourne, but I'll have to check that.

- - - - - Original review
This one has been a favourite since I read it years ago, and I've given my copy away. I wasn't writing
Jan 28, 2010 Buggy rated it really liked it
Opening Line: “What do I remember about being a prostitute?”

In My Skin is the harrowing true story of Kate Holden; an average, middle class university girl from the Melbourne (Australia) suburbs who on a whim decides to give heroin a try. We then follow Kate on a five year journey into hell as she slides into the horrors of addiction and then out of desperation prostitution to fund her growing habit.

This is a candid, gripping, graphic and well written story, although not entirely what I was ex
Mar 24, 2011 Bec rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 29, 2012 Courtney rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The only thing that separates this from all the other sex-worker memoirs is that Holden is an ok writer, whereas the others tend to hope they'll sell books based on serious shock factor. Other than that, this book was one big vanity indulgence. It's unbelievable how conceited this woman is. She's so proud of everything about herself, she's even proud to begin taking heroin, proud to have wandered the St Kilda streets every night giving blowjobs to unprotected penises of cab drivers. She finds he ...more
Eva Leger
Jul 17, 2008 Eva Leger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: recovering addicts, memoir readers
Recommended to Eva by: bookmooch
This was hard to get into for me a few times in the beginning but it's an awesome book. It's about a woman who led a fairly charmed life up until she started using heroin and became addicted. She's very detailed which is one of the things I like about this book and she explains heroin addiction very well, the ins and outs, the whole experience. She eventually becomes a prostitute/call girl and her life goes progressively downhill. Her family is there for her, along with more friends than most ad ...more
Story of a middle class Australian girl who gets addicted to heroin and turns to legal prostitution. It was really interesting to see what drug addiction is like in a country where they have social services (as opposed to the US). She had a lot more resources at her disposal. Of course it still took her a long time to quit for all the garden variety reasons.

As far as the prostitution part, she tries to play the Carol Queen angle, i.e. "prostitution empowers women rather than exploits them." I h
Sequoia Redd
Jun 20, 2011 Sequoia Redd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ever pick up a book that happens to be exactly where you're at? Like literally where you're at?
In My Skin is a memoir written by university graduate, Kate Holden, about heroin addiction and sex work in Melbourne, Australia. Kate started working on the streets of St. Kilda and then moves onto the legal brothel system to support her habit.
I picked up my copy in a bookstore somewhere in Melbourne and could not put it down and then realized that she worked in the same brothel that I was working in.
Addicted to Books
5 beautiful unapologetic about her past- accept life in all its different kinds of glory- stars

This was a very different read! Wow Kate Holden, I am really impressed with your writing and the prose was sometimes hauntingly beautiful.

I love reading memoirs and I have read all kinds of memoirs but I have only reviewed the few I like on GR.

Kate Holden is not holding back nor does she feel she needs to add in ugly stuff empowering the book so that the reader can feel pseudo sorry for her. Nor did
Sep 19, 2007 Johanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research, leisure
Facilis descensus Averno … sed revocare … hoc opus, hic labor est.

To descend into hell is easy. But to return — what work, what labor it is! — Virgil

Holden spirals the reader into the bleak darkness of her heroin-addicted world. Introduced to the drug by her older boyfriend, James, who takes her beyond marijuana trips to needle-penetrating heroin, Holden discovers quickly the heroin-infused realm that she desperately wishes to visit more and more frequently. “Heroin was a lure, a security, a de
Sep 10, 2007 Bronwen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In My Skin is Kate Holden's memoir of her days as a heroin addict and prostitute in Australia. I enjoy memoirs, and I enjoyed reading this one as well. There were a few things that bothered me a bit, though.

First, Holden just glosses over her recovery. Recovered addicts who write about their experiences often dwell too long on their road to sobriety rather than sharing their experiences as an addict, but I felt Holden should have gone a little deeper in describing her healing process. This could
Stephanie Kratzmann
Aug 14, 2008 Stephanie Kratzmann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Kate Holden presents a memoir of life as a heroin addict and prostitute in Australia. I love memoirs, and this one was no exception.

I have to admit that I would have liked to have heard more about how her life came together in the end and how the process "finally worked" for her. After going in and out of rehab so many times what made the last trip work?

It shows that it can only take one moment in our lives to change the path. The book identified how sinking further down into an abyss is much e
Feb 01, 2008 Rose rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So, post-The Heroin Diaries, I've been on this kick of memoirs by ex-heroin users. Dark, I know, but that's OCD for you. Anyway...I have the feeling that Kate Holden is Australia's James Frey. Things just didn't sound real or true. Maybe they were, and you know, good for her for her accomplishments, but I've known chronic heroin users, and they don't have two little bumps in the crooks of their elbows after five years of doing the drug, and they're not proud of getting paid for sex in order to s ...more
Nov 08, 2013 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me as a reasonably accurate take on sex-work in Australia. I've heard of the book before, but had little interest in the dramatic-miserable-memoir genre it seemed to belong to. it has been winking at me on the reader for a while, and got a guernsey during some bouts if insomnia this week.

There was enough dramatic-miserable-memoir, or at least pretty repetitive stories about sex, to make me glad it wasn't longer. But there were two things I hadn't expected.

Firstly, th
For a subject that could have been so intriguing, I found this quite boring.
I feel terrible saying that about a biography, it's not intended to be a judgement of her life - just of this book. I didn't feel engaged by it very much, and don't for a minute believe that you take yourself overseas and suddenly you're not an addict or a prostitute anymore.
10 pages out of nearly 300 doesn't seem enough to beat a 5 year addiction. If anything I felt like it's quite an easy thing to deal with, and workin
Annie Emery
ooh, an awful lot of whoring going on. but a really great insight into the life of a middle class, career heroin addict who takes to the streets to support her habit.
a nice sense of place, capturing melbourne in the mid to late nineties.
great colour and texture.
Reading Kate Holden’s In My Skin and The Romantic together is a little unsettling. It almost feels as though a third part in a trilogy is missing: the story where the protagonist finds peace. The character arc from one book to another is quite powerful, taking Holden through a series of major changes: some terrifying and some quite wonderful. Both books are confronting in different ways. In My Skin charts Holden’s experiences of heroin addiction and working in the sex industry. It’s visceral and ...more
Melissa Kay
Jan 02, 2017 Melissa Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I cant forget how this books made me feel. It changed the way I see those drug addicts. It was an eye opener. It took me to a new level,in understanding addicts like ths. The battle is real.
Jun 07, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend passed me Holden’s autobiography (and début work) after hearing I was looking for books to sink my teeth in to as part of my 2011 challenge. At the time I thought it sounded vaguely familiar: Young Australian girl, good family life, abandons academia for Heroin, becomes prostitute, tells all.

It was after I was well and truly hooked by In My Skin that I put my finger on the feeling of familiarity. Kate and her family had been the subject of an Australian Story feature some years ago and
Badly Drawn Girl
Mar 03, 2010 Badly Drawn Girl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I've read so many memoirs and a large percentage of those have involved addictions. This book quickly pulled away from the pack. This isn't your typical "got caught up in the downward spiral of drugs" book that is so often published. In fact, Kate's addiction doesn't even take up the majority of the book. The main focus is on her life as a sex worker. She starts out on the street, but ends up in a couple of different brothels. The book takes place in Australia, where brothels are legal and it se
May 13, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In My Skin was originally recommended to me through a literature class I’m taking at uni. I’m glad I knew nothing about it before beginning. I recently tried to read Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, by Belle de Jour after falling in love with the TV series starting Billie Piper. Unfortunately I found that although her anecdotes were interesting, there was not enough of a storyline to snag my attention!

Yet it’s safe to say that Kate Holden’s memoir is as similar to Belle de Jour’s as Lo
Oct 05, 2009 Jeni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In My Skin by Kate Holden is a memoir about her addiction to heroin and subsequent life as a prostitute to support her habit.

The very best thing about this book is the no nonsense storytelling. Holden doesn't come from a place of a victim who fell into this horrible life. She doesn't blame her parents or boyfriend or the big, cruel world. This book is very straight forward. Some might find it to be too unaffected, too unemotional, but I think it only adds to the story.

We all hear stories about
Apr 24, 2015 Belinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was keen to read Kate Holden's In My Skin after reading her pieces in the Age and having read snippets about her background. I was curious how this smart journalist whom I enjoyed following in the weekend papers had had another life that usually does not equate to a successful career in mainstream media. Holden is a bright, talented writer. This is a frank, no-holds barred memoir of 5 years of her life living with a drug addiction. Her description of the ease at which someone can fall into add ...more
2.75 stars - I did enjoy this a lot in parts. Like when Kate first decided to take the plunge (HA) into injecting heroine on her own for the first time - this was kinda graphic, but a great description of going over the edge - some of the stories from the street, and the friendships developed at the brothel.
However, sometimes I felt it just tried too hard to be more eloquent than the plot allowed.
While at other times, it felt repetitive but it seemed this was more to convey the continuing cycl
Nene Davies
Jan 07, 2013 Nene Davies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've just finished reading In My Skin for the second time. The first time was before I started writing - and I loved it. The second time, I read it through slightly different eyes and thought 'Yep - still love the book, only this time I'm really blown away by the writing itself, too.'
Both times I felt like I was following the author through the book and having lived in Melbourne, could picture many of the suburbs and areas of the city. I feel sure I have seen a Kate on the tram or walking along
Dec 27, 2012 Claude rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sick of this subject matter. There are plenty of biographies out about prostitution now, (check my read list) and this book is no better or worse than any of the others.
My main complaint about this book is that in the first chapter she alludes to a lavish life provided for by her work. However this never happens as she is always supporting a drug habit. I was hoping that eventually she would kick the heroin (which she does), but also triumph over the material world. She ends up going to europe
Jodi Sh.
Kate Holden's memoir on her years as both a junkie and a prostitute in Australia, sometimes both at the same time, sometimes one or the other; on the street, in various brothels, on methadone and finally clear of it all. She manages to be neither self-pitying nor grandiose but aims for the inconsistency of honesty. Sometimes she finds it unbearable, other times empowering. Not committing to either makes this one of the more honest memoirs of this sort I've read, because the reality is, no matter ...more
Jan 03, 2010 Petra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit I was a bit disapointed in this book. I was more intrested in the part where she got clean agaian and her life back on the rails but that's hardly mentioned. I found her adventures in brothels boring after a while...
But can't deny the book is excelent written and that it was worth the read. Specially to see how easy it is to set the step to prostitution if you are addicted or really need the money...
Dec 01, 2007 Bree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007, memoirs
This is definitely one of the more interesting memoirs I've read about drug addiction - then add in the fact that it was about prostitution and it got really interesting. I really liked the author's way of writing her story, though I found in parts that it was rambling and going around in circles (when she was telling about her clients). Overall, though, it was an interesting look into that world...
Apr 10, 2013 Georgiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent memoir, very well told. I could not put this book down. It was a difficult life but Holden has told it with dignity.
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“Nakedness is nakedness. We all wanted comfort.” 4 likes
“just because you’re afraid doesn’t actually mean there’s anything to be afraid of.” 3 likes
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