I’ve had so much fun sharing fun posts all week by debut authors in celebration for Valentine’s Day and I hope you guys have too! That ended yesterday and I’m going to take us down a more serious path now and talk about a book that I read and love dearly because it touches me on such a personal level. I’m going to share something with you guys that I haven’t really talked to about with anyone except for my close friends since it is such a new thing in my life and it’s been really hard to deal with to be honest. But first, let me give you some information on this book and then I will tell you why it’s so important to me.
Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore
Published by HarperCollins on January 5th 2016
Genres: Adolescence, Drugs, Alcohol, Substance Abuse, Family, General, Social Issues, Social Themes, Young Adult
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Buy the Book • Goodreads
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Perfect for fans of Ellen Hopkins—a heartbreaking tale of family tragedy and drug addiction where sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcomes.Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that's what the police and the district attorney are saying. Although CeCe is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the story is much more complicated. Cyrus wasn't always a drug-addled monster. He used to be a successful athlete, but when an injury forced Cyrus off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence.All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized an effective way to take away her brother's drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills. Only she never expected what happened next.
As you read above this book is about a sister whose brother has a very serious drug problem. In this story Cecelia’s brother dies and she is blamed for his death. While I don’t have any personal experience with losing a sibling, I do have very personal experience with a brother who has a drug addiction.
I have a brother who is almost 5 years younger than me, he has always been really social, always going out, always wanting to have a good time. This isn’t really anything unusual for someone his age, but slowly over the past year or so we had noticed some changes in his behavior and started to get very concerned. This summer we got a phone call that he had overdosed and his friend was able to get him to us. We found out that he had been addicted to crystal meth for over 4 months. I’m not going to get into the hows and whys and such, but my family and I have always been very close. The behavior changes he had, I had said for a while I felt he was on something (my ex husband has a very serious drug problem, I am all too aware of the signs at this point, which is another story for another day).
You really never know all the emotions you will go through when you come to terms that someone you love and are close to has a drug addiction. It is a very VERY tough thing. I can not tell you how many nights I lost sleep, meals I couldn’t eat, endless tears I cried while dealing with his addiction and even his rehab, which he is still undergoing.
I read this book at a very crucial time during the early stages of his rehab and it really helped me in some ways to deal with my emotions and to just show me that my emotions are completely normal. The way Cecelia is portrayed in this book felt so spot on to me. I could definitely tell that Kelly had experienced this type of thing before, and that the emotions were very real and raw.
THICKER THAN WATER is a book that I can see myself coming back to and reading again when I need to feel that I’m not so alone. And while my brother’s story didn’t end in death, and I pray he stays clean for good, it could have EASILY went that way. Everyday is still really tough with him, he isn’t the same person he used to be, meth is an awful drug and it tears the mind up, we don’t know if he will ever get back to his old self. That’s a hard pill to swallow. But it’s books that are written like this on such important topics that help people like me who just need to not feel so alone at times.
So, thank you Kelly for this story and thank you for sharing such personal emotions.
I’m going to stop rambling now and let you guys read the interview Kelly was kind enough to do. 😀
B: I see from the Author’s Note that this book was inspired by your own experience with your brother being addicted to drugs. How much of this book are your own real experiences?
K: So, a lot of it is “informed by” personal experience, but not “about” that experience. My brother struggled with an Oxy Contin addiction for about five years. Things like Cyrus’s room in the basement are completely modeled after my brother’s room. But many of the details, including Cyrus’ death, are completely fiction. My brother never played soccer. He didn’t see a doctor for a sports injury. He did, however, see a “pill mill” physician who was investigated by the DEA. So there are certainly real aspects but I’d never call it memoir or anything. And my brother is alive and sober. So that’s an important indication.
B: I can imagine this was a very emotional book to write, for you and your family, was this something that you felt you needed to do to kind of purge some of your emotions about your brother?
K: It felt very healing to be honest about things. I was able to say (or write) the emotions I’d felt. I think my brother feels a certain amount of that healing as well. We got really close after he got sober and he knows I credit him and that sobriety for this book even existing.
B: Now this obviously takes a fictional turn (if not mostly fictional), what made you want to write this particular story line where Cecelia feels she has killed her brother? Why didn’t you take the route to make this a story of overcoming an addiction?
K: Maybe this is weird – I guess I didn’t want to romanticize recovery. Recovery is fucking hard. People fail far far more than they succeed. I frankly didn’t want to tell the story of redemption of an addict because the addict was secondary. I know there are sisters and brothers out there living the same life I was. This book is for them. For all the times they were overshadowed or ignored or blamed. I wanted that story, CeCe’s story, to be about how we fuck up (again, this can be screw up…) and get back up. I also didn’t want the pressure to be on my brother to be “successful” in his recovery because of the book. He has to work his program and I want to respect that.
B: Are there any scenes you had to cut from the book before publishing that you can share?
K: So, not exactly – BUT, in the original MS there was a secondary “Angel and Devil” narrative. They sat on CeCe’s shoulder, essentially. Here’s an example from the first page:
For a moment, it was just me and a busted-up bean bag leaking tiny Styrofoam beads onto the trash. Like snow, they made my surroundings feel almost clean and a little less desperate.
Angel: There were days when you stared
at Cyrus as though he might disappear,
as though his flesh would fizzle
and fade away.
Devil: There were days when you wished he would.
And now he has.
I waited through another minute of uncertain silence before moving. As I gripped the edge of a nearby trash can, I felt something ooze between my fingers. I think it was what was left of my heart.
A few fun questions…
B: If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
K: THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster OR Dracula by Bram Stoker
B: If you had the chance to co-write with any author, dead or alive, who would it be?
K: Laurie Halse Anderson or AS King
B: What is the first book you remember loving?
K: BREAD AND JAM FOR FRANCES – the picture book. Best food descriptions ever.
B: If someone dared you to write “book nerd” on your forehead while wearing your favorite pajamas – and then share a photo of it – would you do it? (If so, we double dog dare you to do it and share it with us right here!)
K: I would NOT because I’m currently teaching a college class and I feel like that would be ill-advised. BUT, I do have a gem for you from when I went to the Bahamas.
INTL as long as TBD ships to you!
Good Luck ♥