A House on Stilts: Mothering in the Age of Opioid Addiction

Univ. of Iowa. Sept. 2019. 176p. ISBN 9781609386597. pap. $18. CHILD REARING
This affecting memoir begins with Becker (Looking for Betty MacDonald) making lemon-black sesame seed muffins for her 18-year-old son Hunter, home from a three-month drug rehab that she and her family hope is his last stint. Since drug testing is a regular occurrence in Hunter’s life, Becker replaces the poppy seeds with sesame seeds in his favorite breakfast treat. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Becker, Hunter is shooting up opiates in the basement. The Beckers (a physician and a researcher) devour Harry Potter novels, cook from scratch, homeschool, and try to be purposeful about every decision they make. Their world is turned upside down when Hunter’s addiction heads into a downward spiral with a tragic ending. Both gut-wrenching and disturbing, this is a mother’s chronicle of how addiction makes no distinctions. Which choice was at fault for her son’s struggles, questions Becker, as she wrestles with difficult truths, such as recognizing that only the person battling the disease can truly do the work of healing.
VERDICT With hundreds dying each day of opiate overdose and more than two million individuals addicted, this powerful and moving account shows the everyday ordinariness of the struggle of substance abuse and recovery.

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