Review: All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

all-fall-down“New from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner:
Allison Weiss got her happy ending—a handsome husband, an adorable little girl, a job she loves, and a big house in the suburbs. But when she’s in the pediatrician’s office with her daughter and a magazine flips open to a quiz about addiction, she starts to wonder whether her use of prescription pills is becoming a problem. On the one hand, it’s just prescription medication, the stuff her doctors give her. Is a Percocet at the end of a hard day really different than a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class…or after your husband ignores you?
Back in the car, with her daughter safely buckled behind her, Allison opens the Altoid tin in her purse and slips a chalky white oval underneath her tongue. The pill unties her knotted muscles, erases the grime and ugliness of the city, soothes her as she frets about the truth of her looking-good life: that her husband’s becoming distant, that her daughter is acting out, that her father’s early Alzheimer’s is worsening and her mother’s barely managing to cope. She tells herself that the pills let her make it through her days…but what if her ever-increasing drug use, a habit that’s becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?
All Fall Down is the story of a woman’s slide into addiction and struggle to find her way back up again. With a sparkling comedic touch and tender, true-to-life characterizations, this tale of empowerment and redemption is Jennifer Weiner’s most poignant, timely, and triumphant story yet.” – Publisher Summary

Jennifer Weiner has been one of my absolute favorite authors from the time I cracked open Good in Bed way back in 2001. While, in my opinion, nothing will ever compare to Good in Bed, many of her novels have come close – and Weiner’s newest novel, All Fall Down (due out on June 17, 2014) has come the closest. All Fall Down follows the journey of Allison W. down the dark, dirty road of addiction; detailing her first use down to the unstoppable, bottomless pit to which addiction brings so, so many people.

Allison is a thirty-something wife and mother of five-year old Eloise, a highly sensitive child who brings parenting to a whole other level. Instead of staying in her role as a SAHM as originally planned, Allison’s hobby blog has turned into a 60+ hour/week job, making her the primary breadwinner of the family. She and her husband, Dave, barely speak and haven’t shared a bedroom for months. Her father is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and her co-dependent mother is… well, co-dependent. When Allison hurts her back during a Zumba class, her doctor prescribes Percocet and while it helps with the physical pain, it also helps an awful lot with the rest of the pain she is feeling about her life. As her back heals, the rest of her stress does not go away, and Allison moves on from Percocet to Vicodin and further yet. Things spiral downward from there and life becomes a daily hell of trying to take enough pills to function yet trying to keep it under the radar of family and friends. Before she knows it, Allison is about to lose everything she loves…

This was a very moving and powerful portrayal of the kind of addiction that is sweeping across America’s homes and families. When most people think of addicts, they see crackheads or junkies in their minds. No one usually conjures up soccer moms or educated professionals as their first thought. Yet it is happening everywhere, over and over. Stereotypes are very real, and there is a certain type of person who tends not to be suspected as a drug abuser.

“Dave didn’t know how easy it was, if you were a woman with health insurance and a certain level of education, a woman who spoke and dressed and presented herself a certain way. Good manners and good grammar… could get you pretty much anything you wanted. With refills.”

I found Allison’s character to be very realistic and related to her quite a bit. I could also relate to the struggles of her family – the denial of what they were seeing before them, and the anger they experienced once they finally admitted what was going on. Weiner handled the subject of addiction with humor and grace, and kept a very real eye on the world that Allison lived in both pre- and post-addiction. She could have delved a little bit deeper into the inner workings of Allison’s relationships, but for the type of book that this was, I can see how that might not have fit.

This was simply an excellent read – I absolutely intend to purchase this novel as a gift for a close friend of mine, whom I know will enjoy it immensely. I know that you will, too. Mark your calendars, folks: All Fall Down – June 17, 2014.

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner will be in stores and online on June 17, 2014.    Buy it, read it, love it.

4 stars

Source: Atria Books {via NetGalley}

 

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