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Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget
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Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  17,165 ratings  ·  1,587 reviews
Alcohol was "the gasoline of all adventure" for Sarah Hepola. She spent her evenings at cocktail parties and dark bars where she proudly stayed till last call. Drinking felt like freedom, part of her birthright as a strong, enlightened twenty-first-century woman.

But there was a price. She often blacked out, waking up with a blank space where four hours should have been. M
Hardcover, 230 pages
Published June 23rd 2015 by Grand Central Publishing
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 ·  17,165 ratings  ·  1,587 reviews

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Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
this memoir was pushed on me by someone who kept stressing how honest and funny and brave it was, and i read it as a favor to her, but i was unprepared for just how much it would suck me in, make me laugh, and completely charm me.

i don't read a lot of memoirs. i have enough trouble keeping up with the crap my own life throws at me, and it doesn't give me comfort or make me feel empowered to read about other people overcoming their problems. and i don't have any personal experience with alcohol a
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, addictions
My addiction to addiction memoirs continues, and Blackout was the perfect fix. Sarah Hepola can WRITE. I had so many good passages marked in this book that I used up a pile of Post-Its.

Sarah's drug of choice was alcohol. She sipped her first beer at age 6, she started stealing beer at 7, and she first got blackout drunk when she was 11. She went to a summer party at a friend's lake house, drank a lot of beer and some liquor that tasted awful, but she kept drinking. The next morning, a friend sai
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Debbie by: Debbie "DJ"
“I remember nothing” is the title of a funny book by Nora Ephron and an old geezer's favorite (but sort of unfunny) joke. It also could have been the title of this book, which is the embarrassed, heartfelt confession and analysis of a drunk who has blackouts.

Blackouts are mean. Hepola describes how blackouts stole her time, ruined friendships, put her in danger, and did not let their brain form memories. Poof, blackouts made her disappear from herself for hours. The world saw her, but she couldn
“Behold the risk factors for blacking out: a genetic predisposition to holding your liquor, drinking fast and skipping meals. Oh, and more: being female.”

Sarah Hepola, a 40-something journalist/writer is astoundingly clear and real recounting her spiral to the bottom and back up again. So glad she found her way back, such a hard road this would have been.

Whilst memoirs strike many different chords to any given reader, I need to say this story is amazingly real and just as equally scary – but a
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was absolutely an eloquently written, satirical reflection of Hepola's memoir from alcoholism to sobriety. From waking in strange hotel rooms with alarming states of vanished time; not knowing what happened, where and with whom. Liquor seductively lured her in, possessed her, made her feel loveable and brilliant. It took her more than once to get clean and she compares getting sober to a nasty breakup: when you hate and despise the other person but so long for that touch.
This was a journey
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Blackout, by Sarah Hepola, a girl who was always up for a party
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 drink
Throw 'em back, till I lose count
I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
Sia, "Chandelier"
While this is an important memoir by a Party Girl blackout alcoholic, I found it even more significant for Ms. Hepola's brilliant and sassy style in profoundly and provocatively addressing the prevalent problem of young women and alcohol on university campuse
Debbie "DJ"
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A special thanks to NetGalley for this one!

Loved it! Sarah Hepola's memoir captivated me right from the start. Yes, it's a story of alcoholism and her eventual recovery, but WOW was the writing ever good. Her genuine honesty shined throughout, and her humor was priceless!

She starts out telling us of an especially fun night in Paris, the only problem is waking up the next morning in a stranger's bed, with no memory of how she got there. I was unclear if this was her first experience with a blacko
Julie Ehlers
Note: I’m uncharacteristically nervous about posting this review, because I know a lot of people really liked this book, and I… didn’t. Please, if you loved this book so much that you can’t bear to hear any criticism of it, do us both a favor and stop reading now.

I marked several pages in Blackout and originally planned to write a longish review where I backed up all of my opinions with passages from the text, but frankly this memoir is not worth that kind of effort. Hepola spends a lot of time
Aug 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was my first book/memoir on addiction so I have nothing to compare it to, but I should mention that it rescued me from a serious reading rut. The author gives an intimate account of her life journey with alcoholism and had me so emotionally invested I was rooting for her recovery. She outlines the stages of her life beginning with the very first innocent sip of beer with her dad--at a very young age--that would haunt her for years to come.  She vividly details her feelings: how alcohol prev ...more
May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Much has been written about Sarah Hepola’s book “Blackout:Remembering The Things I Drank to Forget” and it is highly deserving of all the accolades it has received. There are plenty of addiction memoirs out there, but this one is top shelf. Ms. Hepola writes with great candor and honesty about how drinking progressed from a fun part of her life to the point where it was her whole life. Her alcohol-fueled adventures range from the hilarious to the heart-breaking. Her journey to recovery, while no ...more
Since I was a kid, I was cautioned against American culture by family, relatives and random strangers. I never paid any attention, and as I grew up, I was confident that there was nothing wrong with American culture any more than there is with other cultures. Sarah Hepola, however, lived in this terrible place I thought was fiction. The woman seems to think that drinking is a cultural mandate in USA. This is the first I've heard of it! The entire book was all about sex, drinks, stories of self p ...more
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a terrific example of the confessional memoir, depicting all the stages of alcoholism – being a child beer thief; alcohol making her the life of every party in Texas and New York City; her worrying blackouts, including the opening scene in Paris; her failed resolutions to stop drinking; and the painful route to ultimate success. Hepola never shies away from details that reflect poorly on herself, and powerfully conveys the loneliness of the drinker. The book is possibly two chapters too ...more
Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Well written and engrossing memoir by Sarah Hepola, who starting stealing sips of beer from the refrigerator at age seven and blossomed into a full-fledged alcoholic who regularly suffered blackouts, once wakening in a strange man's hotel room in Paris. I have no personal experience with addiction and so merely found this interesting and eye-opening, but I think this would be especially meaningful to someone who has grappled with an addiction of any sort.
I got a notification this morning that this was on sale on my kindle for $2 today and that was all I needed- this thing had been popping up on my feed on and off since it was released with really amazing reviews. I read this book in approximately three hours over the course of working out, doing dishes and folding laundry and I need another one of these every Sunday because never has that series of activities gone by so quickly.... even though I did sort of keep pausing and have to come back to ...more
Canadian Reader
I came upon Hepola’s memoir of alcoholism shortly after completing Leslie Jamison’s The Recovering—a self-absorbed and unwieldy tome, which I only disliked more and more after finishing it. Maybe it’s unfair to compare the two books, but the two authors’ descent(s) into alcoholism and many of their life experiences are quite similar. Making comparisons just seems inevitable. First of all, Hepola’s book is short and fast-paced. Although the author is occasionally guilty of the clever, showy writi ...more
Ilyssa Wesche
Apr 08, 2015 rated it liked it
This was not bad, as far as addiction memoirs go. I certainly can empathize with the author's feelings re: blackouts.

I was, however, extremely put off by her not wanting to presume to know why people are atheists and, in the next sentence, bulldozing right into presuming - incorrectly I might add! I can't speak for all people, but the reason I am an athetist doesn't have anything to do with my feelings about organized religion, thank you. I'm glad she found some solace/comfort/strength in God,

Sarah Hepola began drinking at a young age, and, unlike many little children, not only wasn’t repelled by the taste, but craved it from the first sip. Citing her Finnish and Irish ethnicity, she said, “the taste for beer was embroidered on my DNA.” This is a sincere and brutally honest memoir that chronicles her life as an alcoholic--a label she scoffed at and resisted for some time--and her eventual recovery. I was most interested in reading this to learn about what bla
May 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: addiction
I read a flashy magazine article promoting this book. Of course I ordered it before I could put down the article. I should realize after a 101 stories of drunk-a-logs that this was to be no different. It might be the 24 year age difference between the author & myself, or simply her writing style. It was too sing songy & well, too young. A mere 230 pages would take one reading, and this took me 3 weeks. I was never that in to it. ...more
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love drinking/recovery memoirs so was super excited to win a copy of this from Goodreads first-reads giveaway and wow it did not disappoint. This is the best memoir I've read since Caroline Knapp's Drinking: A Love Story. Like Knapp's memoir it is brutally honest and for anyone like me who has suffered through addiction and recovery it is painful to read at times. There were several times when I was pretty much sobbing going yep that was me. Sarah Hepola has a great voice and I never found her ...more
Emily M
I needed to be reminded that I was not alone. I needed to be reminded I was not in charge. I needed to be reminded that a human life is infinitesimal, even as its beauty is tremendous. That I am big and small at the same time.

This book blew me away with its bravery, its honesty, and its persistent wit (seriously, who knew a memoir about alcoholism could make me laugh this much?). Sarah Hepola's voice is tremendous, and from start to finish, I felt so much a part of her challenges. Her self-d
Vanessa Bush
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I spent a few months reading this I felt very close to the heroin and I needed to keep reading because I'm in recovery in around 4 months with a few call but keeping 💪, I applause her vocabulary and honesty, she can capture your imagination and you are left with homework. I love this optimism in this book and this unoblivious realization of various state of mind taking turn in the past. I would recommend 100%
May 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
When I finish a book, I usually have a clear idea about what I think about it, but I’m having trouble coming up with what to say about Blackout. Blackout is Sarah Hepola’s memoir about her many years as an alcoholic and her recent years of sobriety. At the end of the day, I don’t think I have a theme to sum up my reaction to this book, but rather a collection of thoughts and feelings:

>Blackout had me fully engaged.

>I couldn’t help having a tremendous amount of respect for Hepola for being so
Jamise // Spines & Vines
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not your typical memoir. Sarah Hepola delivers a surprisingly open and honest memoir revealing her struggles with substance abuse and the journey to reclaim her life. I enjoyed the candid recollections and her ability to interject humor where pain once lived. "One of the great powers we have is the ability to give meaning to our own experience. It's a fine day when you finally figure out the right time to leave the party."
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, memoirs
I grew weary of this one. It was well written but very repetitive. I understand that, in many ways, that was the point, right? We readers listen to her escapades, missteps, accidents, and scary blackouts over and over and over. In the spaces that weren't absorbed with this narrative, there were clear, wise, brave, painful insights and assertions. I wish her the best success and much strength as she continues her sobriety journey. 2.5 stars
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book I've read on alcoholism...

and I have read a lot. In recovery myself for alcohol and drug addiction, I never tire of hearing or reading about the stories of others trudging this road of happy destiny

Sarah Hepola can write, and she has a heart as big as Texas. If I could give this book ten stars, I would. It is that good.
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Welp, she's right on. I wish the Jesus stuff wasn't in the tail end of the book, because otherwise I feel her to the point of discomfort.
Theresa Alan
This is a well-written memoir. Hepola is a talented, quotable writer. Her introduction regarding the science of blackouts was especially interesting: She quotes Aaron White “When men are in blackout, they do things to the world. When women are in blackout, things are done to them.”

One reviewer called this “ferociously funny,” which it’s not. There were a few times I chuckled, but this is not a laugh-out-loud laugh riot.

While I enjoyed this book, I couldn’t help but compare it to similar memoir
Julia Smillie
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At some point early on in reading Blackout, I stopped marking passages that were nearly identical to thoughts I'd had during my own drinking days and subsequent recovery. Not since I first read Caroline Knapp's Drinking: A Love Story have I felt as though a memoir not only "got" alcoholism, but also "got" me. This is not to say that my experience is identical to Hepola's, but it's similar enough that the book struck me deeply, with its remarkable authenticity. It's an important memoir and I'm gl ...more
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed this scorchingly honest memoir about Hepola's struggle with alcoholism. I originally picked this up because I have a friend whose husband has this illness but I quickly learned that women alcoholics are in a league of their own and that alcohol actually affects us differently. Before I picked this up I didn't even realize that blacking out (forgetting) is different from passing out (unconsciousness).

This book made me examine my own drinking. Like Hepola, social anxiety plays
Apr 14, 2015 rated it liked it
The sober part of this book was a lot less interesting than the drunk part. I mean we all enjoy - in our superior sort of way - the falling apart friend who always has those great stories through which we live vicariously. But sobriety is hard work and introspective instead of easy, sexy, and outspoken.

And the sober part just isn't as terrifying as the blackout-drunk part. When bits of the human brain shut down - shut down, not slow down or fade, I've always assumed death is pretty soon to follo
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Getting Sober: any suggestions? 5 18 Aug 16, 2020 09:44PM  

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Sarah Hepola is the personal essays editor at, where she reads people’s secrets for a living. She has written many stories about drinking and eating too much. Her essays on culture have appeared in the New York Times magazine, The New Republic, Glamour, The Guardian, Nerve, Slate, and The Morning News, where she has been a contributing writer for more than a decade. Her past jobs include ...more

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