Monday, September 26, 2016

All Fall Down - Jennifer Weiner

Title: All Fall Down
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Read Via: Audiobook

Allison Weiss got her happy ending: a handsome husband, an adorable daughter, a job she loves, and the big house in the suburbs. But while waiting in the pediatrician's office, she opens a magazine to a quiz about addiction and starts to wonder: Is a Percocet at the end of the day really different from a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class, or if your husband ignores you? She tells herself that the pills help her make it through her days; but what if her increasing drug use, a habit that's becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?

Allison, a woman pushing middle age, is married to Dave and has a cute yet sensitive daughter named Ellie.  She started taking Percocet after her c-section, then moved to Vicodin after she pulled her back during an exercise class.  When she can't get a refill for Vicodin, she convinces her doctor to give her a prescription for Oxycontin.  Long story short, Allison finds herself addicted to opiates (though she would tell you otherwise.)  All Fall Down is Allison's story of addiction and thinking she needs to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders.  

Allison believes that she has to be the one to take care of her dad who has alzheimer's.  Because her mom just can't handle it all and won't do anything.  Allison believes she has to be the one to do all the household cleaning and shopping and cooking, because her husband Dave won't do anything.  Allison believes she has to be the one to take care of their daughter Ellie and her "sensitivities" all the time, because Dave, again, won't or can't handle it.  In Allison's mind, everything will fall apart without her.  Which is why she thinks she needs the pills.  Because the pills give her the ability to juggle everything with energy and to survive all the little annoyances that come along with being the only person who can handle it all.  

In case you haven't figured it out, Allison is kind of a control freak.  I think that she likes to be the one doing it all - she sees herself as being the only one who can do anything.  Everybody else will mess up if they try to do something on their own.  So, Allison's decent into drug addiction (and denial, and stealing from her job, and anger at everyone else) seems like the thing that would happen.  I hate to say that her addiction is her own fault, but in a way, I view it as that.  I think that it was inevitable, and was another way for her to control something in her life when things felt so out of control.  She felt like taking the pills was her own thing, and like it was what gave her the ability to do everything that she thought nobody else could do.  

When Allison's husband finally found out the extent of her drug use, and found out that in less than one year, she had spent over 10,000 dollars buying Oxy and Vicodin from an online covert website, he confronted her.  And I secretly cheered that he was finally talking to her about her addiction that she still maintained she didn't have.  She ended up in rehab, where she said she'd hit her bottom when she took a nap and her husband found the details of her online purchases.  After sneaking out of rehab to go to her daughter's birthday, Allison finally hits her bottom and admits it when she's at a friends house searching through the cupboards for a pill to take while her daughter stands outside the door saying "Sorry if I am a bother."  

While I don't know if this was a book I would re-read - it is definitely a book I would recommend to others.  The story is well plotted and moves effortlessly from beginning to end.  It was believable, even in the chapters where Allison was driving me crazy because she was so selfish.  The characters were all well-developed and distinct - even in rehab when there were a couple young characters all named "Ashley," which made Allison laugh, because it's such a generic name.  I could feel myself wanting to punch Allison in the face, and yet also cheering for her to get better.  I didn't always love the attitude Allison had, but I was in her corner, waiting for her "come to God" moment, even though she's not very religious.  

If I could rate this book 10 stars, I would.  Read it - you won't be disappointed.

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