Review: Nice Recovery

Nice Recovery
Susan Juby
Viking Canada
2010
9780670069170

This gripping memoir tells the story of author Susan Juby’s addiction to alcohol. As a socially awkward teen in a small town, Juby turned to alcohol to ease her through social situations. Her heavy drinking led to fights with friends, random hookups, and waking up in a strange place after blacking out. Though she always vowed never to drink again, she continued her turbulent relationship with alcohol until finally seeking help at 20 – an age when most of her peers were partying heavily.

This book was so good I couldn’t put it down, finishing in just over a day. Juby doesn’t try to glamourize her substance abuse but instead presents her story in an honest and often self-deprecating manner that can still cause the reader to smile despite the tragedy unfolding. At the end of the book, Juby presents the stories of other young people in recovery and discusses resources of interest to those struggling with substance abuse. A powerful read.

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Review: 1982

1982
Jian Ghomeshi
2012
Penguin Group (Canada)
978-0-670-06648-3

1982 is the story of an Iranian teenage boy growing up in the highly suburban (and highly Caucasian) community of Thornhill in the early 80s, desperately trying to be cool. In this case being cool means David Bowie, lots of black clothing, a little eyeliner, and a whole lot of hair gel. The book chronicles both Jian’s musical education and attempts to be “New Wave” as well as his desire to win the affections of a Bowie-esque girl named Wendy.

I was curious to read this book based on the popularity of Ghomeshi’s program, Q. I admit I don’t really listen to the radio or watch CBC on a regular basis, but he seems to be something of a Canadian media icon so I figured why not? I should be broadening my horizons and reading more non-fiction, so I gave 1982 a try. I did enjoy some parts of the book, such as the story of how the Ghomeshi’s home was mistaken for a brothel because of the red lamps his father so loved or the loss of young Jian’s prized Adidas bag at the hands of an angry punk. I got frustrated in places where I found the text a bit too repetitive. I get it, Wendy looks like Bowie. Bowie is cool. Thornhill is full of white people. Some of these points were belaboured a bit much for my liking, but I was still able to enjoy most of the book, including all the references to 80s technology that I still remember with something resembling fondness. Who knows, maybe I’ll check out Q one day.