Addicted to heroin and unable to stop on his own, Brian Storm finds himself sitting on the tracks waiting for a train to come and take his life. But things weren’t always this bad for Brian, an aspiring white rapper from Philadelphia who had a good upbringing. In Brian’s early teen years, he discovers that drugs and alcohol are the perfect solutions to his low self-esteem issues. Like most addicts and alcoholics, Brian believes that he can stop at any time, so he doesn’t see any harm in continuing to drink and smoke weed. What he doesn’t know is that with every sip and every puff, he falls deeper into a world of crime and desperation.
The Struggle is a gripping true story that takes you through the life of an alcoholic/addict who hits rock bottom but quickly learns that the more he tries to dig himself out, the deeper that bottom gets. It takes a blessing in disguise for Brian to finally get the help he needs, but when he does, he learns that The Struggle is far from over.
Despite the title, there’s excitement and wit here, too. Writing with crisp clarity and power, plus an eye for the telling detail, Storm digs into his love of hip hop, his youthful penning of rhymes, and the way trouble at first seemed manageable. But some of the kids living on the edge in any high school fall off. For Storm, working in a Xanax blur at McDonald’s at 16 soon leads to hustling “works” (syringes) on the street, subsisting on “sugar sandwiches” made from purloined sugar packets, and working with an addict whom he fell for in detox to shake down her ex-boyfriend.
Tense confrontations, dope-sick sweats, HIV scares, a murder, lost time with loved ones: The Struggle lays out its tragedies and miseries without a sense of romance or braggadocio, instead relating the facts (as Storm recalls them) in prose that moves quickly and never suggests self-pity. Material about AA and recovery proves as compelling as the dark stuff, and the everyday victories in the final chapters—marriage, home ownership, a degree—are especially moving.
Takeaway: This searing but wise account of addiction and recovery inspires as much as it harrows.
Great for fans of: Nic Sheff’s Tweak, Koren Zailckas’s Smashed.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A