Exploration of addicts’ continuous battle

2010-05-19 00:00

BEFORE I begin this review I must reveal a prejudice. I was given Melinda Ferguson’s first book, Smacked, to read by a friend who is distantly related to Ferguson. She told me the effect Smacked had had on Ferguson’s immediate family. So I read with an awareness of how the gruesome revelations of Smacked must have shocked her conservative family. When Hooked arrived on my desk I wondered if it wasn’t self-indulgent­ to air yet more dirty laundry.

Ferguson justifies her book by saying Hooked is an exploration of how drug addicts battle addictions of all kinds although they are clean. I was drawn into the narrative instantly in the same way that I was with Smacked, even with its shocking contents. Ferguson grasps her readers by the short and curlies with her brutally honest writing­.

However, some sections were unpleasant to read such as her visit to a Swingers Club with her porn-magazine editor boyfriend. Hot pools smelling of chlorine and semen aren’t realities that I want to dwell on.

In Hooked Ferguson also details her intimate virtual relationship with a recovering addict who talks to her constantly on Facebook. This online connection becomes her new addiction. Pages and pages of chat take up much of the book and, while we are intrigued for most of the time, sometimes this seems indulgent.

This book elicited two reactions from me. Firstly, my prurient self felt uncomfortable dwelling on Ferguson’s sexual addictions. I’ve never thought sex is a spectator sport and couldn’t help thinking the effect these revelations would have on her sons. Another side of me recognises that Ferguson has pinpointed two modern diseases: Internet addiction, where people’s most intimate connections take place via the web, and sex addiction, where anything goes as long as sexual pleasure is involved.

Towards the end the writing grows less sensational. I could relate more to this Ferguson, the one who watched her father die when she was just four. Although many people have dealt with worse without resorting to drugs, somehow this fact coupled with a dysfunctional relationship with her mother, caused Ferguson to develop an unquenchable longing.

By the end of the book I was taking her seriously. If Hooked, like Smacked, helps even just a few addicts survive their addictions, it will be well worth the writing of it.

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