Discussion/Author Interview: Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore (Giveaway)

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.

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Discussion/Author Interview: Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore (Giveaway)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
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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. 😀

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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.

KSFP

 

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About Kelly Fiore

Kelly Fiore-Stultz has a BA in English from Salisbury University and an MFA in Poetry from West Virginia University. She received an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2005 and 2009. Kelly’s poetry has appeared in Small Spiral Notebook, Samzidada, Mid Atlantic Review, Connotation Press, and the Grolier Annual Review. Her first young adult novel, Taste Test, was released in August 2013 from Bloomsbury USA, and her second, Just Like the Movies, again from Bloomsbury, was releasted in 2014.

Kelly lives and teaches in West Virginia with three children, two dogs, one hedgehog, and a very patient and loving husband.

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Have any of you ever had to deal with anything like this?

24 comments

  1. Alecia says:

    This sounds like a truly heartbreaking story but one I am very eager to read. Great interview with th author as well very interesting. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Rebecca says:

    I’ve never had to deal with anything like this, so I can’t imagine what it’s like. Thanks for sharing your story with us and for the wonderful interview with Kelly. I’m glad the book helped you and made you not feel so alone – that is one of the many beautiful reasons books matter. This was already on my TBR, but I’ll be bumping it up for sure.

  3. Kristia says:

    I like reading books that are not afraid to tell a story that’s not so easy to tell. I didn’t know that this was inspired by some of the author’s personal experience, it makes it even more tempting to read. Thank you for the giveaway 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Yes, I really enjoy reading books that I know are from a very personal place also. Especially books that touch on such serious topics.

  4. ShootingStarsMag says:

    I really appreciate books that deal with tough topics because they shine a mirror on something people may not understand, but it also gives those who DO understand an ally of sorts.

    Thanks for this lovely interview, and for sharing your personal story about your brother. I wish him the best of luck in his rehabilitation! I don’t have anything to share quite like this besides one of my favorite cousins being addicted to heroin. I say not quite like this because it’s not a direct sibling, so I never saw him much to begin with. I do hope he gets better but I’m afraid he’ll overdose and we’ll never know.

    -Lauren

    • Crystal says:

      I will say from my experience a sibling is quite a different story and a different kind of emotions. My ex husband had a drug addiction and I’ve gone through two totally different sets of emotions through both processes and definitely can’t compare the two. But no matter who it is, or what it is, addiction is a hard thing to go through with anyone you care about. 🙁 Thank you for taking the time to read the post Lauren!

  5. Sarah Cone says:

    Thank you, Crystal, for not only reviewing & bringing attention to this book but for sharing such a personal & painful experience to help us understand why this book touched you so much and is so important. It’s so sad that any family have to go through this but I’m really glad that reading this book helped you get to a better place.

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you Sarah! It is very sad, and it’s been very hard, and I’m sure will continue to be that way for a while. I’m just glad there are books like this out there. It really does help.

  6. Susan T. says:

    It’s really awesome of you to share your story. I’m sure others are going through similar situations and knowing that others are facing it too is so comforting. Isn’t it amazing how much books can help when you’re down?

  7. Carina Olsen says:

    Aw. <3 Stunning post Crystal. Thank you so much for sharing all of this. You are the most awesome. All the hugs. I'm so sorry about your brother :\ I hope he is doing much better now. *Hugs* <3 You are amazing for sharing about it 🙂 And I'm so glad this book meant so much to you as well. It sounds pretty amazing. I might have to read it one day 🙂

  8. Angelina @Fables Libary says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that, it’s so sad 🙁 I’m sorry you had to deal with it….I know I’ve seen this book at the library but I never really thought about checking it out. It sounds so heartbreaking and good so maybe I’ll check it out 🙂 That’s cool you got to interview the author though, I’ve always wanted to do that :D!

  9. Giulia Mancosu (jiujiuk7) says:

    Hello Crystal! Thank you very much for this amazing opportunity and for sharing with us this beautiful interview! I’m a new follower and I am so so happy I found your blog, because I already love it! And I’m so sorry for your brother, I hope he gets well very soon.
    I wish you all the best for your life and your blog! Kisses from Italy!

  10. Bashayer A says:

    Hope your brother feels better now! I love the kind of books that remind me Everything is fine, and I be moving on, not stuck. Sounds a great book! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  11. Debbie says:

    Drug addictions are an all too common occurrence in my town atm and it’s just tragic to witness these young lives being thrown to waste because of their addictions. This definitely seems like it’ll hit close to home for personal reasons but I am interested to read it. Thank you for the giveaway.

  12. danielle hammelef says:

    I want to read this book now after your review! I am thankfully not involved with anyone who is suffering with drug addiction and hope never to be. But, to get an idea of the emotional rollercoaster involved through a fictional character is not only safer, but will be an eye-opening experience for me.

  13. Karin S says:

    thanks for sharing your story. I don’t know anyone who is suffering with a drug addiction but the idea of it is tragic

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