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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Weekly Review: Sunday, May 25, 2014

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Here we are, y’all, nearly at the end of May already – can you believe it? Already nearly halfway through 2014 – that’s crazy! There’s so much I’d planned to do this year that I haven’t done yet; I suppose I’d better get my bum in gear. One thing I haven’t been slacking on is reading, that’s for sure. So far this year I have read a total of 106 books. My goal for the year is 150 – I think I’m going to make it! Let’s take a look at how this week went:

Books I read this week:

Book I’m currently reading:

Posts from the week of May 18th:

Upcoming posts for the week of May 26th:

  • Review: Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
  • …and more!

Things slowed waaay down this week when I read around 4 1/2 books compared to the 8 I read last week during the read-a-thon. Not sure how that happened, but c’est la vie! Midnight Crossroad was a bit ho-hum in my opinion, but the other books I read more than made up for that. For starters, I re-read one of my favorite books of all time, Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. This is the third time I’ve read it, and it was just as fabulous as ever. I can’t wait to read Weiner’s newest novel, All Fall Down – it’s not due out until June 17th, but I have an ARC so I get to read it before then. Yay, me! Jennifer Weiner rocks. Shotgun Lovesongs was a great tale of the lifelong friendship between four very different men from Wisconsin – I promise it’s much better than it sounds! The Secret of Magic – oh, my. What an amazing novel. Set in 1946, one of the first female lawyers for the NAACP travels to Revere, Mississippi to achieve justice for the death of a returning WWII veteran. What follows is heartbreaking and breathtaking. It would do you good to check out any of these books, y’all. We don’t have big plans for Memorial Day, just a little grilling out with the Pathologically Literate Family in the backyard. How ‘bout y’all? Whatever your plans are, I wish you all a Happy Memorial Day!

 

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Review: Disconnected: An eShort Story by Jennifer Weiner

DisconnectedShannon Will is twenty-eight and has made six trips to rehab (not that anyone’s counting). But this time, she swears, will be different. She’ll clean up her act, go to meetings, find a sponsor, and make a clean break with her past—starting with a new phone number.
But old ties aren’t so easy to sever. When Shannon’s new phone starts getting messages she was never meant to see, Shannon has to decide whether to risk getting involved, or stay safely disconnected.
Gripping, suspenseful and smart, Disconnected is a riveting tale of addiction and obligation, secrets and redemption. – Goodreads

Friends, allow me to begin by saying that I am a huge fan of author Jennifer Weiner; I have been her loyal follower from the moment I cracked open her debut novel, Good in Bed, way back in 2001. Apparently, two years ago Weiner started the tradition of releasing a short story each Halloween season, specifically with darker themes attached to them. In 2011 there was Recalculating, and in 2012 there was A Memoir of Grief. This year, in 2013, Weiner’s Halloween release was an eShort story titled Disconnected.

When we begin Disconnected, Shannon has just finished her sixth stint in rehab – literally, as in, she’s walking out the door. Her first stop is a wireless phone store – she needs a new phone, and a new phone number; in rehab she was told she needed to “disconnect” herself from all of her former friends and acquaintances. She gets a cute little touchscreen, and the cute salesman leaves his number in her new contact list. Hmmm – new romance so soon? Oooh, so NOT recommended by AA, Shannon! Shortly after returning to her empty apartment, Shannon receives a picture message – it’s a bottle of OxyContin, one of her former drugs of choice. Soooo not chill, folks.

The next day, Shannon hightails it to visit Devonte at the T-Mobile store. He explains that the text was likely meant for the previous owner of her new phone number, and advised her to ignore it. Unfortunately, that night, a series of further texts arrive on Shannon’s screen. Creepy and disturbing messages and pictures, that remind her of somewhere she’s once been herself. Shannon is overcome with the sense that someone is in trouble and needs to be saved – by her specifically – but what to do? She’s a former drug addict with no car, no friends, and no money! Of course, she calls good old Devonte from T-Mobile and requests a ride around town while she hunts down the damsel in distress. What follows is vindication, followed by dreaded awareness, followed by a new awakening.

I did enjoy Weiner’s story this Halloween. For some reason I felt a connection to Shannon that I hadn’t felt to the characters in her other eShort stories in the past (pun not intended). Weiner did an excellent job detailing the dreadful downward spiral that addiction causes in one’s life by replaying flashbacks of Shannon’s past before her downfall. Obviously, one can’t expect a huge amount of depth to this work – it is a mere 38 pages. All in all, Disconnected was a nice little tale of loss, suspense, heroism, and redemption all rolled into one enjoyable quickie. Bravo, Jenn, bravo!

One last tasty little tidbit, friends: this year’s eShort story has a special Halloween treat — it features a character that will make an appearance in Weiner’s highly anticipated forthcoming novel, All Fall Down, due for publication on April 1, 2014!

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Atria Books {via NetGalley}

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