It can be incredibly powerful to read about how drunk driving has impacted someone else’s life. If if that person is a fictional character, it can still have a big impact. These are three books that deal with alcoholism or drunk driving that really struck a chord with me. I encourage all of you to pick them up.
Ten Minutes from Home is the poignant account of how a suburban New Jersey family struggles to come together after being shattered by tragedy.
In this searing, sparely written, and surprisingly wry memoir, Beth Greenfield shares what happens in 1982 when, as a twelve-year-old, she survives a drunk-driving accident that kills her younger brother Adam and best friend Kristin. As the benign concerns of adolescence are replaced by crushing guilt and grief, Beth searches for hope and support in some likely and not-so-likely places (General Hospital, a kindly rabbi, the bottom of a keg), eventually discovering that while life is fragile, love doesn’t have to be.
Ten Minutes from Home exquisitely captures both the heartache of lost innocence and the solace of strength and survival.
Nat’s not an alcoholic. She doesn’t have a problem. Everybody parties, everybody does stupid things, like get in their car when they can barely see. Still, with six months of court-ordered AA meetings required, her days of vodka-filled water bottles are over.
Unfortunately, her old friends want the party girl or nothing. Even her up-for-anything ex seems more interested in rehashing the past than actually helping Nat.
But then a recovering alcoholic named Joe inserts himself into Nat’s life and things start looking up. Joe is funny, smart, and calls her out in a way no one ever has.
He’s also older. A lot older.
Nat’s connection to Joe is overwhelming but so are her attempts to fit back into her old world, all while battling the constant urge to crack a bottle and blur that one thing she’s been desperate to forget.
Now in order to make a different kind of life, Natalie must pull together her broken parts and learn to fight for herself.
After 25 years of caring for children, first as a nurse, then as a pediatrician, Carolyn Roy-Bornstein finds herself on the other side of the stretcher when her 17-year-old son Neil is hit by a teenage drunk driver while walking his girlfriend Trista home after a study date. Trista did not survive her injuries. Neil carries his with him to this day.
Gratitude for her son’s survival ultimately gives way to grief. While initially told Neil’s only injury was a broken leg, Roy-Bornstein quickly finds herself riding in the front seat of an ambulance transporting her son to the ICU at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; his brain is bleeding.
Roy-Bornstein is now not the patient’s doctor or nurse but his mom. The world she so easily navigates in a white uniform or a white coat now must be traversed, understood, and dealt with from the perspective of a parent.
There are many dividing lines in this story. The line that divides this family’s life in two: the events that occurred before the crash and those that came tumbling and faltering in its wake. The line that separates grief from gratitude: gratitude that her son is alive and as whole as he is; grief for his loss of memory and changed personality and for having his whole world shattered in an instant. The line that separates the world Roy-Bornstein knew so well as a doctor from the new one she must now navigate as the parent of a trauma victim.
In these pages she explores all of these boundaries: between then and now, grief and gratitude, before and after, us and them. Her many years as a “medical insider” bring her story authenticity and detail, while her newcomer status as the parent of a trauma victim add poignancy and warmth in this first memoir.