Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Drunk Mom

Summary: Three years after giving up drinking, Jowita Bydlowska found herself throwing back a glass of champagne like it was ginger ale. It was a special occasion: a party celebrating the birth of her first child. It also marked Bydlowska’s immediate, full-blown return to crippling alcoholism.

In the gritty and sometimes grimly comic tradition of the bestselling memoirs Lit by Mary Karr and Smashed by Koren Zailckas, Drunk Mom is Bydlowska’s account of the ways substance abuse took control of her life- the binges and blackouts, the humiliations, the extraordinary risk-taking- as well as her fight toward recovery as a young mother. This courageous memoir brilliantly shines a light on the twisted logic of an addicted mind and the powerful, transformative love of one’s child. Ultimately it gives hope, especially to those struggling in the same way. -- Penguin

Earlier this week, I reviewed Lena Dunham's new book NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL and I enjoyed it quite a bit. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that when she recommended DRUNK MOM by Jowita Bydlowska, I wanted to read it. Here's what she said:

“An intense, complex and disturbing story, bravely and beautifully told. I read Drunk Mom with my jaw on the floor, which doesn’t happen to me that often.” – Lena Dunham

Basically, DRUNK MOM is Jowita Bydlowska's story about her problems with alcohol and her eventual recovery. It's disturbing. It's gut-wrenching. And it's almost impossible to believe for someone who only has the occasional drink. However, this book is also a beautiful story about the love a mother has for her child.

Ms. Bydlowska had just given birth to a beautiful and healthy baby boy. Instead of basking in the glory of motherhood, she takes a drink at a party to celebrate the birth of her child and quickly descends into a personal hell. She returns to her life as an alcoholic and spends almost every minute of her life drinking or trying to hide her problem.

Fortunately, Ms. Bydlowska eventually sees that she is destroying her family and enters rehab. She realizes that she has to get her life together for the sake of her son... and herself. She shares her life as an alcoholic with the same honestly that she shares her path to recovery.

Ms. Dunham wasn't lying when she said that she read DRUNK MOM with her jaw on the floor. That's pretty much the exact same reaction I had. No matter how bad I thought an alcoholic's life could be, I never imagined it to be anything like Ms. Bydlowska described in this book. There is no way I can even describe her struggles -- you have to read this book, but she gives details on the blackouts, the binges, the fights, the secrets and more. The sheer desperation she explains in this book is almost unfathomable!

Despite being shocked by Ms. Bydlowska's story, I was very impressed with her courage in sharing her experiences. Truly, her life as a full-blown alcoholic is difficult to comprehend, and I had a hard time not judging her especially since she had a little baby. However, I never doubted that she loved her child. I also realized very clearly that alcoholism is a disease and Ms. Bydlowska needed an incredible amount of strength to fight it. Thankfully, she realized that her son needed her with all of her facilities... and not an alcoholic mother!

Ms. Bydlowska's story is extremely interesting, but I think DRUNK MOM worked because of her writing skills. I loved how she chose to tell her story. Much of the book was written in snippets and sounded almost manic... kind of like her life as an alcoholic. I admit that it took me a little while to get used to her writing style, but once I did, I really liked it. I think my inability to put down this book is a testament to that!

DRUNK MOM is a distrubing, yet fascinating, memoir about one mother's desire to return to her son.  Highly recommended.

Thanks the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.


bermudaonion said...

I read A Piece of Cake years ago so I have some idea of the life of an alcoholic and I know it's not pretty. This book does sound gut wrenching.

Heidi’sbooks said...

It sounds like it could also be encouraging for someone going through some of the same things. Interesting.

Beth F said...

Whoa. This sounds really eye-opening. I've read a bit about this topic (a couple of memoirs), but this sounds even more powerful.