Perhaps I thought this book about sobriety might be funny and clever because the author’s name is abbreviated to A.A., when he is called “Adrian” throughout the book. On the other hand, I also thought it could be a sobering (pun may or may not have been intended) insight on how addiction affects a person. A vast majority of us have at least encountered someone battling one addiction or another but how many of us have been the person struggling to overcome it?
Although I do commend the author for his bravery to be open and honest about his life, alcoholism, and even dyslexia, it just was not a book that kept my interest. Now, I do not mean that in a cold-hearted sense. I am not a reviewer that was scoffing at each page whilst directing my nose higher in the air with each page turned. I am not discounting his experience at all. It is the manner in which the book was put together that I was not altogether pleased with. Instead of this being a book about drowning in alcohol and finding a way to breathe again, this book is instead a rambling monologue of memories patched together.
The author reveals that his own father published an autobiography before he passed. In my opinion, this book felt more like an obligation in order to achieve paternal approval (post-mortem) rather than chronicling his journey to overcome addiction.
Struggling with dyslexia was something unexpected, however, it still did not seem to be enough to hold my interest. It felt like I sat next to someone on the subway who gave me random pieces of his life story. It was disappointing, to say the least.
For those who may be sensitive: there are themes of addiction, alcoholism, open marriages, and foul language.
Please note: a copy of this book was generously provided through the Penguin Random House First To Read program in exchange for an honest review.
Reading is something that started as an acquired taste and grown into a frequent hobby of mine. My sister was always the reader of the family. Growing up, it would be very common to find her nose in a book and my mouth running on a phone. I often found myself fascinated that she could just slip into another world at the turn of a page. My brother and I were fond of picking on her frequent reading when we got bored, as siblings often do. Karma came back with a vengeance while I was reading Truly, Madly, Guilty.
I do not think that I have ever been interrupted so often while reading this book. Whether it was a phone call, a coffee shop stranger asking questions about the book, time itself, work, the frustrating list goes on and on. Truly, I wanted to be able to read this book in one sitting or two. It has over 400 pages, but each page mattered. The chapters were short, sometimes barely over a page, but they were peppered with a trail of information that was snowballing. Do not make the mistake of skipping through them. The details are fragments of a beautiful mosaic.
This story is told in multiple perspectives just like the multiple colors that can be found in a mosaic. Each color is vibrant and distinctive on its own, highlighting marital struggles, parenting woes, occupational stress, overcoming childhood trauma, and the fragile boundaries of friendship. Clementine is a cellist who struggles with stage fright. Her husband Sam struggles with his role in his workplace. Together they battle finding time (and patience) to juggle work with parenting and marriage. Clementine’s best friend Erika has been a rigid perfectionist, often the outcast. The only thing she cannot perfect is childbearing. Erika’s husband, Oliver, is also a perfectionist and an unexpected hero when a traumatic event occurs involving all of these characters. Without spoiling anything (or any more) of the story, please let me leave you with this: the unexpected will happen. Friendships will be tested. Marriages will be tested. But all will be right in the end.
For those who may be sensitive: there is foul language, sexually suggestive material, struggles with infertility, hoarding, and vomiting.