The theme of heroin addiction has been done to death in books and movies. I get it, it's horrible. Don't do it. It will ruin your life. But somehow, this book managed to add something new to the heroin-addiction story line. It is told mostly from the perspective of the artist/professor mother who realizes her 20-something son has spiraled to the depths of heroin addiction. This book made me see that finding out that your child is on heroin is as bad as finding out they have terminal cancer. Class or privilege doesn't insulate you from it, and fixing it is completely out of your control. This boy was completely lost to his family, a different person from the one his mother raised, a ball of animal instincts with no capacity for love. That is what heroin does to you, before it kills you. I understood it in a way that none of the previous books or movies have shown me.
If nothing else, it reminded me to watch my own children closely, to talk to them. I think we tend to forget the influence of drugs in the lives of teenagers when we have reached the stage of responsible 30-something parent. This book prompted a dinner-table discussion with the teenager in our house about why you should never, ever, ever try heroin. It was a good conversation, and maybe it will make no difference, but it's better to have it than to pretend drugs don't exist. Because it became very clear from our discussion that the opportunity to try drugs is all around him.
But I'm not saying you should read this book because it is public service announcement about kids and drugs. Roxana Robinson is a fabulous writer, and it is a great read. I couldn't put it down.