All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

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Title: All Fall Down
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Pages: 381
Source: Library, hardcover

Allison Weiss leads a double life. On the outside, everything is perfect – she has an attractive husband, cute daughter, and a successful career as a blog writer. However, she’s becoming increasingly worried that her husband is cheating, her daughter is acting out, and her parents’ are barely able to cope with her father’s Alzheimer’s. Initially, she relies on prescription Vicodin and Percocet to dull her problems. When those aren’t enough, she purchases Oxy Contin online illegally. Soon her life begins to unravel – she’s stealing money from work, lying, tired all the time, and the last straw, she almost drives with her five year old in the car when she’s under the influence. Her husband is furious and her mother is concerned. They send her to rehab where she meets Aubrey, Mary and a whole slew of other addicts. At first, she’s doing everything in her power to get out. She isn’t made in the image of the other addicts. She’s educated, her attendance isn’t court mandated and she has never done street drugs. But the healing doesn’t begin until after she is able to admit that she has a problem.

All Fall Down isn’t the light and humorous read that I’m used to from her. She focuses on the psyche of a young mother in the downward spiral of addiction – which at times can be heartbreaking and upsetting. What I thought Weiner got across really well was Allison’s desperation – for more pills, for her husband’s love and attention, for a way out of her situation – but I was surprised to feel dislike towards Allison because she wanted the easy way out. It wasn’t until she admits to having a substance abuse problem that I really began to care about what will happen in her life– Does she stay with her husband? Does her daughter outgrow her “acting out” phase? Does her mother become more independent?

Weiner’s novels have always been one of my go-to guilty pleasures after I read Good in Bed in university. What drew me to her books initially was that her heroines weren’t made from the traditional chick lit stock that I was reading. They had good jobs, were financially independent, and not a size 2. They were struggling with their weight – just like me. I found them to be more relatable than the characters that were a size less than zero, shopaholics or looking for Mr. Right to give them their happily-ever-after. It’s not one of my favourites (of Weiner’s) but it’s still an enjoyable, if not slightly disturbing read.

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