All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner
Bestselling chick-lit author Jennifer Weiner goes a bit darker with her newest book All Fall Down, a compelling story about the price some people pay in the pursuit of having it all. Weiner tackles the growing epidemic in our society of middle and upper-class suburban parents who abuse prescription medication to cope with their overworked and overstressed lifestyles, yet writes this story beautifully and in a way that doesn't make you hate the addict or necessarily feel sorry for her either.
Allison Weiss has a lot going on. She is a talented writer and blogger who is trying to balance a business, aging parents, a demanding daughter, and a marriage that is slowly crumbling. When the website she develops takes off, she is challenged to the point of being completely overwhelmed. Her husband is becoming distant, her daughter is overly demanding, her father is developing early Alzheimer's and her emotionally distant mother cannot cope. As Allison struggles to hold her home and work life together, and meet all of the needs of the people around her, she finds that the painkillers she was prescribed for a back injury help her deal with more than just physical discomfort - they help her feel calm and get her through her increasingly hectic days. All Fall Down charts the course of Allison's downward dive to drug dependency. It begins as a somewhat slow downward spiral, using regular doctors to get the meds, and then progresses very quickly into a major problem. The pills take over her life and she does things she never would have done before. She secretly starts buying the drugs on the internet through an unknown source and spends excessive amounts of money. The addiction finally comes to light when she makes a poor choice while picking up her daughter from school one afternoon. Her husband confronts her and insists she enter a rehabilitation clinic. Once there she slowly realizes that she cannot control everything, no matter how hard she tries. A counselor tells her, "So many of us women feel like we're the ones holding up the world. Like it's all going to fall down without us." What a true statement that is.
This book was a real eye-opener for me. Allison could be any one of your friends or neighbors, or she could be any one of us. She's a good person, a regular mom, and honest and funny. I really bought into the character. Everything she does seems consistent with addiction, and while sometimes you just want to shake her, you can almost understand why she reacted the way she did. I felt like I was going through it with her, which says a lot about Jennifer Weiner's great writing. A real page turner, this story is one that will linger in your mind long after you finish reading it.