Nancy's Reviews > SICK

SICK by Jen Smith
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's review
Jun 23, 2012

really liked it

The subtitle of SICK by Jen Smith is "A riveting memoir about drug dealing, addiction, and understanding abuse." All true. The story is a compelling chronicle about Jen’s life as a Deadhead. It’s an unapologetic portrayal of a life centered around drugs: taking them, selling them, enjoying the money earned from them. It’s also an account of her descent into a relationship of terrifying abuse. And a story of how she pulled herself out of it without losing herself in it or her son.

There’s a lot to digest in her journey, from the innocent beginnings to the consuming dependence, despair, and fear. At times she seems in over her head; at other times, she relishes the lifestyle and takes great pride in her business skills; and many times, the addictions take over with frightening focus and urgency. Her story allows us to see and understand how her partner slowly began to control her life, until her finances, her social life, her movements in the world, her very existence, are no longer her own.

I appreciated how directly Ms. Smith told the story, as if she were sitting across the kitchen table, just talking. Not all characters contribute to a traditional “story arc” and sometimes the events ramble across time and dialog drops off. Though an edit pass might have caught some of these issues, the stream of consciousness writing contributes to the immediacy of the memoir.

SICK a difficult memoir to read; there were times when I had to put the book down and take a break. But Ms. Smith’s story will draw you in and you’ll find yourself rooting for her to get out.

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