Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hooked by Jamie Smolen, MD

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): Buddy, a scrawny, introverted, pimple faced teen, can't resist the lure of the beautiful and seductive Sidney who offers him a pain pill...the way to instant fun and excitement, and for Buddy, a false sense of acceptance. He rapidly descends into the ugly and brutal world of prescription drug addiction. His only hope is to choose the sober path of recovery...not knowing that true happiness will be his greatest gift.

And here's what I thought:    If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may be wondering what this book is doing here.  It's not the kind of thing I usually review.  It's definitely not the kind of thing I usually read.

However, I had been contacted by the publisher to see about reading and reviewing it.  I will admit I had some misgivings, because this is not the kind of story I would usually pick up.  However, I thought I would give it a try --- and in my mind, I knew I was agreeing to do this mostly because I know that prescription pill abuse among teens seems to be on the rise.  So maybe I agreed to read it partly because I felt a bit guilty -- that it was something I should read, but probably wasn't going to really love.   Kind of like a vitamin pill.

I am not going to lie and say that I loved this book.   I will say that it had some interesting parts -- and I think that there are some people who will find that this book is not only really relevant to them, personally, but helps them if they are coping with this issue (either as someone who is using drugs, or someone who loves someone who is using drugs).    Personally, however, this book did not resonate with me -- and it's probably because I just never felt like I truly understood, or liked, the main character.

Instead of feeling like I got to know Buddy, or really felt like I understood his motivations, I felt more like Buddy was there as a vehicle to not only explain why teens might start to abuse prescription drugs, but also as a way for the author to give the reader a ton of information not only about drugs, but the recovery process.    The author does a good job of (through Buddy) showing how it feels when you take certain drugs.  The author also does a great job of imparting a lot of information about the effects of drugs, what certain drugs do to you, and what can happen in an overdose.  However, when this happens in the story, it's just done in a way that I didn't care for.  Example: Buddy has overdosed on some pills, and paramedics have shown up -- and he's coming out of it, and hearing the doctor explain everything. (p 61-63).   There's a lot of information here about the effect of opiates, and what the doctors did to help him .....   but I find it odd that Buddy, who is just starting to recover, would be able to not only hear everything the doctor is saying, but completely and clearly retain it.  As I said - it's like the author is using Buddy as a vehicle to get a lot of information across ..... but then as a result, Buddy, himself, just didn't feel that real.   I would have found it more realistic if the author had Buddy reading some of this (and thus, as a reader, I'd be learning about it), rather than overhearing it.   His inner dialogue was something that just never struck me as completely believable -- and frankly, when he was talking to other characters, he didn't always sound realistic, either.

When Buddy finally hits rock bottom, then he's on the slow climb to sobriety and recovery - and luckily, meets someone who helps and supports him.  I did like that the author gives us both sides of this --- that we see Buddy when he becomes addicted to prescription drugs, and then we see him when he's going through recovery.

It is quite clear that the author is very passionate about this subject, and he does have personal experience, as well as a lot of professional experience, with addiction.   I believe that this is an important topic, and I think that there will be teen readers, and parents, who will really find that this book not only resonates with them, but is helpful in understanding addiction and recovery.

I understand that like any reader, my reactions to this book have a lot to do with my own life experiences.  I'm not a teen, I don't have a teenage child, I never abused drugs, and no one in my family abused drugs, either.  That's not to say that I didn't know people who did drugs ---- but when I was a teen, prescription drugs just weren't what was popular.  I knew kids who smoked pot, took mushrooms, and did cocaine.   The drugs I hear about these days are not only prescription medications, but heroin is apparently becoming popular again.   It's scary -- and an important topic.  Books like this one, for some readers, are important - so if this is a topic you find interesting, or if it's something happening in your own life in some way, then I'd encourage you to give this book a try.  Please don't let the fact that the book didn't resonate with me keep you from picking this up.  

Rating:  I am not going to give this book a rating.  I don't think it's quite fair --- this is a book that I think readers react to on a very personal level, so I don't think my usual ratings would necessarily apply.


Karen said...

It's good to go outside your reading comfort zone once in awhile.

Even though this book didn't work for you it seems like a compelling story for someone who might relate to it better.

I'm glad you took the time to read & review it.

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