Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me by Erin Khar

tahnif's review

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I received a Goodreads Giveaway copy.

This book was dark and painful to read, as one might expect from the description. Chapter after chapter I kept hoping that things would turn around or develop more depth. It felt shallow at times - I wanted to know why she behaved the way she did; instead she just described her actions. And perhaps this was because, as she mentions, she was attempting to escape her feelings.

The author acknowledges the privilege she holds, in passing for white, and in being so wealthy she didn't need to work. She even mentions the shame she felt, but the privilege made it harder for me to empathize with her. I realize this is my own prejudice but I want to mention it because I had to set aside my prejudices and even pause reading several times to be able to absorb her story, but it was worth finishing. And substance abuse is such an important topic that we need to hear more stories about, regardless of the source.

There were also a few details left unresolved that I wondered about,
Spoiler such as whether she resolved the issue of early sexual abuse with her mom or in therapy, whether Pete stayed clean and if she was still in contact with him, and what happened to her dogs from 1996, Gideon and the new one she got when Vincent proposed. She had them before she went to rehab then never mentioned them again.

shinychick's review

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I'm a sucker for a good ordinary-person memoir, even moreso if it involves drugs. (Being someone who doesn't partake makes that subject fascinating to me.) This is pretty good, on par with Nic Sheff.

yleniareads's review against another edition

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hopeful reflective sad


eleellis's review

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Strung out by Erin Khar is a memoir detailing the drug addiction, mental illness, and abuses in the life of the author. The book opens with Khar trying to figure out how to formulate an answer to her own child's question of whether his mother had ever used drugs. Coincidentally, when Khar's twelve-year-old son asks her this question, he is just one year younger than when his mother first used heroin at the age of 13 years of age.

To be honest, while reading this memoir, and others like it, (for example Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking), I have to admit a bias of those of the upper classes when it comes to issues such as substance abuse, nihilistic behaviors and other debilitating life occurrences in their lives. This is not to lessen or besmirch the troubles in the lives of the well to do or to express a belief those well off automatically have trouble-free lives. However, when reading memoirs like this, I tend to think of all of the other hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people lacking the resources, safety nets and opportunities of the upper classes, while wondering who will tell their stories and how their voices are held silent by the tethers of being rooted in the lower socioeconomic shackles of life. And due to the contents of at least the first seventy-five percent of this memoir, those biases were not removed, which made it difficult to finish the memoir.

My main issues with the memoir were the assemblage of the book and how the adage "first impressions are lasting impressions" impacted how Erin Khar was first perceived. With the way the chapters of the memoir were gathered, it was hard to establish empathy with her or feel sympathy toward her. The first parts of the memoir detailed an extravagant lifestyle (brand new cars, jewelry, designer clothes, overseas jaunts, paid for apartments and so on) of what appeared to be the description of a spoiled and petulant young woman, disrespectful of her fortunate socioeconomic standing in life, one of which she had nothing to do with other than being born into it. This then clouded over the power of her experiences and while reading the memoir lessened the impact of her life until reaching the end of the memoir.

To me, to make a memoir such as this resonate, the author must write in a manner that defeats these biases. While reading Strung Out, this did not happen until the very end of the memoir. It is not until the end of the memoir where the reader learns what she has learned and who she has become and what her substance abuse filled life led to later in her life. Though she does sprinkle information through the memoir describing origins of her behavior, it is not until the very end where Khar really connected with this reader and where empathy and sympathy toward her emerged. I would have preferred to have felt that from the beginning and on through the memoir.

kelroka's review

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Strung Out by Erin Khar is an extremely well written addiction memoir. It is open, honest and at times, really hard to read. It is also the story of the intersection of addiction and privilege, and the ways in which this privilege helped, and hindered, Khar on the road to her hard-won sobriety.

Though it can be frustrating, at times, to find sympathy for Khar (It's hard to follow the story of someone who, given all of her resources and support, consistently makes the wrong choice and you can't help but think about the addicts out there who do not have the support and resources that Khar does.) I do think that this memoir is important because it does show how pervasive the disease of addiction can be, regardless of who you are, where you come from, what your resources are.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was provided an ARC of this book from Park Row/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

aliciabooks's review

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