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Lisa Mead
Before There Was An After
A powerful and emotional mother and son journey through his heroin addiction and multiple attempts at recovery. Honest, heartbreaking and revealing they share their very personal experience, mistakes, and search for answers. the book is intended to be a resource for families dealing with a loved ones struggles providing insight, explanations and validation that this insidious disease is a disease that affects the entire family. The hope is that by understanding what you are dealing with you can come to terms with who is in control and who needs to choose freedom and purposes.
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 6 out of 10
Prose: 6 out of 10
Character/Execution: 6 out of 10
Overall: 6.25 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Told in tandem between a mother and son, Before There Was an After is a grueling and painful journey into the world of addiction that is often stark and compelling. The work is unflinching in its depiction of a vicious and unforgiving cycle of self abuse and crippling anxiety. 

Prose: The text is written in a powerful and accessible manner that is often grim and difficult to read. And while the simple, straightforward storytelling is affecting, the prose can become repetitive and monotonous as a result of the dual narration.

Originality: Stories of addiction and the difficult road to recovery are familiar. Before There Was an After does stand apart via its use of two perspectives. Though the storytelling reads as cathartic, the work doesn't fully translate into a stimulating reading experience. 

Character/Execution: The most affecting chapters of the book are those written from Gerard's perspective as the reader gets a glimpse into the mind and motivations of an addict. Meanwhile, Lisa delves into her son's backstory and reassesses what she could have done differently in a tale of drug addiction that does not always deliver.

Date Submitted: December 08, 2023

In this moving memoir, son and mother Davis and Mead recount their transformative journey and the lessons they learned as Davis faced heroin addiction. After a life-altering motorcycle accident, Davis lost the feeling in his dominant arm along with his dream of attending art school and pursuing a career in photography. In the aftermath, he numbed the pain of discontentment and depression. Told in rotating point-of-views, Davis and Mead each share their perspective on the impact that addiction had on their lives and their loved ones. The duality of their story being told by both voices results in a moving, multi-faceted examination of a mother's love and young man's misery eventually giving way to a desire to overcome addiction.

Just as Mead reminded Davis that he was not alone, the authors show readers who may be facing similar troubles that it’s possible “to plant a seed that will sprout at some point and turn into a beautiful life.” Through multiple relapses, life-threatening infections, and arrests, Mead never loses faith that one day her son would win the battle. Reflecting on her support, which at times served to enable Davis's addiction, Mead offers a transparent narrative from a loving mother never willing to give up on her son, even in times when she had to learn to let go. Davis offers urgent insight into the mind and struggles of an addict: "Experiencing addiction creates a series of cracks in your belief system,” he notes. “It blows up what you know to be true and breaks you in places you didn't know you could be broken.”

These impassioned accounts demonstrate that "addiction is a 'family disease'" that affects everyone in the life of an addict. Covering detoxes, surgeries, and rehab, both authors illuminate what it takes to find a path to recover—and invaluable lessons about what it takes to support an addict as the authors unflinchingly share a story offering real hope.

Takeaway: Moving memoir from a mother and son's journey overcoming addiction

Comparable Titles: James Brown's Apology to the Young Addict, Erin Khar's Strung Out.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A