Saturday Read: Nice Recovery, by Susan Juby

In the summer, there is nothing I love more than laying on the beach with a cold drink and a good book. One of my favorite genres for summer reading is biography and for some odd reason, I tend to gravitate to memoirs of alcohol and drug abuse. Don’t ask me why, but I love to read memoirs of addicts. Maybe it’s the grittiness of the story or that they usually are somewhat recovered by the time they write the book, but I can’t get enough of them! So when I came across “Nice Recovery” by Susan Juby, I didn’t even think twice about digging in.

You may recognize Susan Juby’s name; that’s because she is a best-selling teen fiction author. She is also a recovered alcoholic. Juby’s memoir begins with her first, very insignificant drink at a wedding, but her alcoholism actually starts when she is 13. Always considered a bright, capable student and gifted writer, she decides to start hanging out with the wrong crowd (or the people her mother refers to as “bad news”) and gets heavy into partying. After being sent to live with various relatives all over British Columbia and somehow managing to graduate high school, Juby moves on to fashion design school in Toronto. Once there, she continues to drink herself silly and, eventually, out of school. During her time as a student, she out-drinks everyone she meets and begins to see a bigger and bigger divide forming between her and her peers when it comes to drinking. Then, she gets a couple wake-up calls and decides to sober up at the ripe old age of 20, just when most people begin their drinking career.

I found that I was really able to relate to Susan’s story. I myself was a pretty big partier in high school and have since considerably settled down. I’m not sober, but I haven’t been drunk in over a year, and I kind of like it that way. People can never believe how little I drink and that I have no desire to get hammered. I’m constantly being pressured by friends, but honestly, drinking effects me way too much and the night out is never worth the hangover (at least in my case!). Anyways, my feelings aside, the book is so refreshing and definitely stands out amongst the alcoholic-memoirs I’ve read. It’s poignant, funny and above all, totally real.

One of my favorite parts of this entire book was the disclaimer Juby makes at the beginning. She says that because the majority of the time period she is writing about was spent in blackouts, that she cannot guarantee 100% accuracy. She goes on to say that alcoholics are notorious liars and someone who claims that their story is totally true is simply just using that acquired skill and bluffing. This whole book is filled with honesty of this caliber and I applaud her for being so open with the entire world about her struggle.

“Nice Recovery” is a great summer read. Susan Juby delves into a heavy subject, but keeps it light-hearted and entertaining. You’ll never find yourself sobbing over the situations or stories in this one, but it will make you think and maybe just change your perspective.

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