Tuesday, August 11, 2015

book review: Blackout by Sarah Hepola

The backstory: I've been reading Sarah Hepola's work for years on the Internet, thanks to one of my oldest and best friends, Kathleen, who introduced me to her writing on The Morning News in the (very) early 2000's. I greeted the publication of her first memoir with delight.

The basics: Blackout chronicles Sarah Hepola's complicated relationship with alcohol from childhood to the present, when she is happily sober.

My thoughts: I've been saying Sarah Hepola is one of my favorite writers for more than ten years, and I had just about stopped saying it because I was starting to dread the typical follow-up question about what books she's written when the asker has no desire to read a slew of Internet links. Now I can hand them a book. Blackout is one of those books that makes me pause when I try to describe it. It is absolutely about drinking heavily, blacking out, and Hepola's road to sobriety. That description wouldn't have made me pick it up, and it doesn't even begin to do this memoir justice. It's a story about life and connections, and for Hepola, alcohol figured heavily: "But I wanted my own stories, and I understood drinking to be the gasoline of all adventure. The best evenings were the ones you might regret."

I highlighted about half of this book. Hepola is a brilliant wordsmith. She pinpoints feelings and emotions with a beautiful precision that leaves me thinking, "yes! That's exactly what that feels/felt like." I can't say if my affinity for Hepola is a sign that we're very similar feelers and thinkers and that I treasure her ability to make me feel understood my reading about her experiences, thoughts, and feelings. I can say, even if I were the demographic antithesis of Hepola, I bet I'd still be wowed by her writing and searing honesty.

Favorite passage: "I've always been mixed up about attention, enjoying its warmth but not its scrutiny. I swear I've spent half my life hiding behind a couch and the other half wondering why no one was paying attention to me."

The verdict: Sarah Hepola is one of those writers who makes me say fangirl things like "I would read anything she writes." But I would. I'll also re-read this one, as much for the prose and insight as her ability to share so much with such poignant vulnerability.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 231 pages
Publication date: June 23, 2015
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Blackout from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Sarah Hepola's website, follow her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

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