Nonfiction Review—The Heart and Other Monsters: A Memoir by Rose Andersen

Synopsis from Goodreads

A riveting, deeply personal exploration of the opioid crisis-an empathic memoir infused with hints of true crime.

In November 2013, Rose Andersen’s younger sister Sarah died of an overdose in the bathroom of her boyfriend’s home in a small town with one of the highest rates of opioid use in the state. Like too many of her generation, she had become addicted to heroin. Sarah was 24 years old.

To imagine her way into Sarah’s life and her choices, Rose revisits their volatile childhood, marked by their stepfather’s omnipresent rage. As the dysfunction comes into focus, so does a broader picture of the opioid crisis and the drug rehabilitation industry in small towns across America. And when Rose learns from the coroner that Sarah’s cause of death was a methamphetamine overdose, the story takes a wildly unexpected turn…….

Five out of Five Stars!!

I knew going into this one it may trigger some feelings in my usually neutral-reading soul.  Little did I know…..

This memoir wrecked me in a way that no other memoir to date ever has.  I could feel Rose’s anger, pain, regret, guilt, and, above all, the love for her sister   coming through on every page. It’s one thing to lose a beloved sister to an overdose, but to a potential murder?  I can’t even imagine.

Rose Andersen’s writing is powerful and cohesive without trying to be flowery.  There is no sugar-coating, no excuses.  She takes the reader into her past, with the abusive, alcoholic stepfather and the mostly absent father.  She shares the story of her own descent into addiction and her hard-won sobriety.  I have a feeling this memoir was more of a cathartic and healing experience for her as well as the need to share the story of her sister.  And it’s something that I commend her for finding the strength to do.

I read this memoir in an afternoon, yet it’s taken me a few days to mentally process it.  It dredged up a lot of feelings for me, including my own pain over the loss of some close friends to drugs and alcohol and my own substance  abuse problems.  But at the end of the day, this story of Rose and her sister Sarah is a powerful testament to family bonds and coping with the unexpected.  Be sure to check this book out when it is released July 2020.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me this early e-copy for review.

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