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Fiction & Nonfiction on Addiction

The sci-fi writer Vera Nazarian once said, “Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.” March is National Reading Month, so it’s the perfect time to stop at a bookstore or library. Truly great literature creates a discussion on important issues in society, shedding new light on topics that impact us every day. Often, books also create discussion on new angles as authors present their unique takes on characters, plot, and setting. These books shed light on addiction in ways that are worth a read.

Crank (Ellen Hopkins)
Ellen Hopkins’s Crank is written in verse and chronicles the protagonist’s drug addiction as a teenager. The young adult bestseller is loosely based on her daughter’s addiction to crystal meth and the impact this had on their family. Widely praised for its poetic language and unique formatting, Crank was followed by sequels Glass and Fallout, both of which address the implications of addiction for the entire family. Hopkins’s daughter has been clean since 2002.

Go Ask Alice (Anonymous/Attributed to Beatrice Sparks)
Go Ask Alice was a groundbreaking text when first published in 1971 as one of the first books to tackle teen drug addiction. The book, written as a diary, is acclaimed for its portrayal of drug culture in the late 1960s. The book was originally marketed as nonfictional, although many attribute its content to editor Beatrice Sparks. No matter fiction or nonfiction, this gripping book has remained an important milestone in understanding teen drug addiction and mental health.

The Glass Castle (Jeanette Walls)
Jeanette Walls’s memoir of growing up with her three siblings in an unconventional household has been praised as one of the best books of the past ten years. With an addict father and, at times, neglectful mother, the book chronicles their nomadic lifestyle and eventual move to a small West Virginia town, all while describing her father’s lifelong battle with addiction.

Rachel’s Holiday (Marian Keyes)
Highly entertaining and poignant at all the right moments, Rachel’s Holiday chronicles a young woman’s journey through rehab in Ireland after hitting rock bottom. Rachel’s journey is filled with humor and self-knowledge as she comes to terms with her addiction and moves in a positive direction towards recovery.

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic (Sam Quinones)
Sam Quinones’s gripping nonfictional account of the rise of prescription drugs and heroin has been recognized by Amazon, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, and many more as one of the best books of the year. Weaving together a journalist’s perspective of growing drug usage and personal storytelling of the lives impacted, Dreamland is worth a read in a world where overdose deaths are at an all-time high.

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