Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
This affecting memoir begins with Becker (Looking for Betty MacDonald) making lemon-black sesame seed muffins for her 18-year-old son Hunter, home from a three-month drug rehab that she and her family hope is his last stint. Since drug testing is a regular occurrence in Hunter's life, Becker replaces the poppy seeds with sesame seeds in his favorite breakfast treat. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Becker, Hunter is shooting up opiates in the basement. The Beckers (a physician and a researcher) devour Harry Potter novels, cook from scratch, homeschool, and try to be purposeful about every decision they make. Their world is turned upside down when Hunter's addiction heads into a downward spiral with a tragic ending. Both gut-wrenching and disturbing, this is a mother's chronicle of how addiction makes no distinctions. Which choice was at fault for her son's struggles, questions Becker, as she wrestles with difficult truths, such as recognizing that only the person battling the disease can truly do the work of healing. VERDICT With hundreds dying each day of opiate overdose and more than two million individuals addicted, this powerful and moving account shows the everyday ordinariness of the struggle of substance abuse and recovery.
This is a brutally honest narrative about opioid addiction. Becker, her husband, and their three children seemed to be thriving: writer mom, doctor dad, a comfortable suburban lifestyle, best parenting practices, homeschooling, loving relatives, a house full of books and music. Imagine their shock when their oldest son, Hunter, became addicted to drugs in the ninth grade. In a deeply introspective manner, Becker shares her bewilderment and grief, her and her husband's deep denial and readiness to make excuses, their anguished decision to ban their child from their home, and his unpredictable appearances in their backyard tree fort (the title's house on stilts). Readers will be caught up in Hunter's endless cycle of deepening addiction, homelessness, rehab, and relapse, resulting in his family's emotional and financial turmoil and eventual dazed exhaustion. Like too many, this account of opioid addiction ends in tragedy. This timely story puts a face on the statistics and brings the tragedy of opioid addiction into sharp and relatable relief.--Kathleen McBroom Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
A saddening account of the effects of opioid addiction on a household "just like yours perhaps."The "house on stilts" of the title is a backyard treehouse in which Hunter, child of Becker (Looking for Betty MacDonald: The Egg, the Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and I, 2016, etc.) and her physician husband, once played; later, it became a refuge for the drug-addicted young man, forbidden entry into the home. That descent into addiction is now so common as to be nearly universal, but it takes those who must bear the collateral damage of chemical dependency often unawares. One minute, as she notes, they're reading Harry Potter and baking pies, and the next the child is in the basement shooting up. Naturally, Becker shoulders some of the blame. She and her husband tried to shelter their children from the worst aspects of modern culture, home-schooling and banning most TV programs, which seems to have lent Hunter "the quality of a lost person, of someone without a map." Sensitive and intelligent, he exhibited a desire for risk-taking and sensation, very much unlike his mother, who confesses to never having taken drugs even in "the freewheeling 1970s." As she learned, the decades separating her era from her son's constitute a vast gulf, unbridgeable in the end. That end is, of course, tragic. Becker's account is rueful and increasingly self-aware. She moves from a kind of wide-eyed innocence to a recognition that the whole thing is, as a chapter title has it, "totally fucked," but always with a backward glance at where she went wrong. Was it too much indulgence, too much protection? Probably not; as she writes of her son, "he was fully equipped for happinesswe gave him all the tools." All the same, as she writes, drugs and addiction recognize no boundaries and put the lie to the best of intentions.An unblinking portrait of how drugs destroy lives. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Paula Becker is the author of Looking for Betty MacDonald: The Egg, The Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and I , and coauthor of The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World's Fair and Its Legacy . She lives in Seattle, Washington.