Review: Bewilderness by Karen Tucker

Anna: Starting 2022 strong! I loved this book.

Irene and her best friend, Luce, live in a small town in North Carolina. They work as servers and have been sober for nearly a year. But that night, something happens with Luce’s boyfriend, Wilky, that sends them spiraling back into using. The narrative is structured by a dual timeline, so we get to go back see their entire journey with addiction from the start, including the big breaking point that made them first became sober.

Bewilderness is a dark story about substance abuse, addiction, and the cycles of addiction. On the surface this is an important, cautionary tale: addiction kills. But at its core it’s about the complex friendship between Irene and Luce, and how their relationship changes and is tested over the years. And the writing is beautiful. Bewilderness is perfectly paced, it’s heartbreaking, and I couldn’t put it down. If you liked Marlena by Julie Buntin, I think you should check this one out. 

I also learned so much about addiction, the path to sobriety, and just how hard it is to stay clean. I encourage you to check out Karen Tucker’s website and read some of her interviews to learn more.

Trigger warnings: Addiction & drug use 

Review: The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward

Trigger warnings for sexual assault, drug and alcohol addiction, and domestic and physical abuse

“They are not ours, the stars/and have never been.”

Anna: Let me just say that when I bought this in the $1 section of Strand, I didn’t know that it was a memoir told through poetry. I am not a huge fan of poetry, but The Terrible blew me away. Most of it is told through narrative style poems, which helped make it less scary for newbies like me. But there were some really beautiful poems in here that were much more experimental in form than I was not expecting to enjoy. 

Yrsa grew up with her ultra religious grandparents in Northwest England. We follow Yrsa’s childhood, her troubled relationship with her mother, her love for little brother, and her journey into adulthood and ultimately finding herself as a poet and a person. Be warned–this is extremely dark and in some ways is largely the story of Yrs’s struggle with drug addiction. I could not stop reading and flew through it. I especially loved her relationship with her little brother. My only complaint is that I think the final poem tied everything together a little too nicely.

Maybe I’ll read more poetry now?

VERDICT: 4 out of 5 books