In this latest thoughtful twist on the recovery memoir, crime-writer Martha Grimes and her son, Ken Grimes, tell parallel stories of their individual addictions. Martha was a five-martinis-a-night drinker; Ken, a pot smoker who didn't mind downing a six-pack...or three. While each story is meaningful on its own, how the two play off each other is what makes the book so worth reading. We see how Martha's parenting—involving multiple moves around the world and alcohol-fueled wit and rage—influenced Ken's choices as a teenager. And we get to see how Ken's teenage drug use influenced Martha's life as a mother and writer. In places, their tales overlap, such as when Martha gives her version of the time "Ken stole $500," then Ken gives his. (Neither, thankfully, shies away from taking responsibility.) Most illuminating about the whole process is that both parties can really write. Martha's passages are meditative, focusing on the need for—and difficulty of— staying sober, bedecked with exquisite and pithy observations, such as, "There was a point when Jim Beam and Gordon peeled themselves off the labels and came to sit down beside me." Ken, on the other hand, provides an intimate look at his own crash-and-burn—and the realization that he had to address the thing "so entrenched in my psyche I can't tell where the drink on the bar ends and the rest of me begins." You don't have to be an ex-anything to be moved by this memoir.
— Leigh Newman
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, December 12, 2013