New York Times Book Review - July 8, 2018
In The New York Times Sunday Book Review on July 8, 2018, Judith Newman reviewed my book The Only Life I Could Save, along with several other books, in her Help Desk column. How to express the emotions that somersault and handspring when reading a review in the NYTBR of a book in which you have poured out your heart and soul? Of course I wish as all authors do for a review sprinkled with superlatives but 197 words in what a great friend of mine calls "THE, as in THE, most important review of books in which an author can be mentioned" is good enough. No, much, much better than that, it is an honor for which I am profoundly grateful.
When I read the last line in Judith's column, the reference to the video game Frogger and the image of dead frogs who try and fail to cross the road to safety hit me hard. A video game gets the adrenaline flowing and there are always new frogs to replace the squashed ones with no blood or tears shed, but a real-life child with a serious drug problem taps into a parent's deepest well of terror and helplessness. Kids who use drugs die -- from overdoses, falling off porches or down stairs, vomiting in their sleep . . . and from suicides caused by their own feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair. I know too many people who have lost their children to drugs and addiction. One of my friends lost her son to an overdose; clean and sober for more than a year, he moved to New York City where a friend at work offered him a hit of heroin. With the thought that "this is the last time" -- at least this is what I believe -- he went home to his tiny apartment where he overdosed and died that night. Bobby's death was all too real and horrifying. He was a much-loved child whose parents and sister will grieve for him every day for the rest of their lives.
"You are one of the lucky ones," Bobby's mother told me recently. She is right. I did not love my son more than she did, I did not do more to try to help him than she did, but Ben made it to the other side of the road while Bobby did not. And there are no more Bobby's waiting by the side of the road to jump in and take his special, precious place in this world.