Broken People

Hanover Square: Harlequin. Jun. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781335013934. $27.99.
DEBUT Author of The Gilded Razor, a corrosive memoir of adolescent drug abuse and one-night stands, Time West Coast editor Lansky has written an eyes-wide-open debut novel about a man named Sam who’s moved from New York to Los Angeles and is determined to stay sober and mend a life littered with failed relationships and failed dreams. But he still suffers from what he perceptively describes as “that elemental sense of brokenness, of being wrong, of being bad.” Then, at yet another fancy party, he hears about the healing promise of an ancient herb called ayahuasca, administered by a shaman over three days, and after some contrary resistance he’s eager to try it. Through the visions that follow, we participate in Sam’s painful backstory and come to understand what it is he needs to let go.
VERDICT Set within the vividly realized framework of addiction recovery and gay life in America, this remains the story of one man’s deep personal struggles while at the same time speaking to and for all the broken people in this world. Some readers may twitch at the long drug trip, but it’s a deeply felt journey that many will want to take. [See Prepub Alert, 12/1/19.]

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