Release Day Review – We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction

April 5, 2011

Book cover for "We All Fall Down" by Nic Sheff.Title: We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction

Author: Nic Sheff

Publication Year: 2011

Pages: 368

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Source: E-book review copy from the publisher through NetGalley

From the cover:

In his bestselling memoir Tweak, Nic Sheff took readers on an emotionally gripping roller-coaster ride through his days as a crystal meth and heroin addict. Now in this powerful follow-up about his continued efforts to stay clean, Nic writes candidly about eye-opening stays at rehab centers, devastating relapses, and hard-won realizations about what it means to be a young person living with addiction.

Yesterday, I reviewed Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines, Nic Sheff’s memoir of addiction. Today, his follow-up memoir is published, chronicling the time after those events took place. We All Fall Down has a much different feel to it than Tweak did, but it’s not any less powerful.

In this memoir, we really get to learn more about Sheff’s inner workings in terms of his addictions in general – to drugs, yes, but also to alcohol, relationships, sex, and attention. Even though Nic doesn’t exactly stay “sober” for the entirety of We All Fall Down, he isn’t usually high, either, not at all like he was in Tweak. He slips up and struggles, but never really falls to the depths that he did before, which is encouraging for the reader.

For me, an interesting part of reading about addiction is learning more about how the addict feels and how they try to grow and move through the experience. I’d rather read about an addict who struggles with staying sober than read about someone who just suddenly flips a switch one day and never touches drugs (or whatever their addiction of choice is) again. It’s just not realistic for most people. Books, for me, are usually a window into someone else’s life and circumstances, and I want to hear the real story, not the neat and tidy fabrication.

That is where We All Fall Down really succeeded for me. Sheff is still telling it like it is, just like in Tweak, but it’s different. The narrative is less about drug-fuelled binges of impulsive actions and their consequences, and more about just how hard it is to be trying to get over an addiction. It’s more about the day-to-day struggles and the things that trip you up, that make you realize you’re not as invincible as you wish you were, drugs or no drugs. And that’s exactly what this book is about – the hardships and the difficulties, but the attempt to persevere through all of that.

We All Fall Down is released today. If you’ve already read (and enjoyed) Tweak, then get out there and pick up a copy. It’s a really interesting follow-up. I’d definitely recommend reading them in order, though, or you’ll get lost.

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