Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Everything I Never Wanted To Be: a memoir of alcoholism and addiction, faith and family, hope and humor

"Everything I Never Wanted To Be: a memoir of alcoholism and addiction, faith and family, hope and humor" by Dina Kucera
218 pages
Published October 2010 by Dream of Things
Source: the publisher and TLC Book Tours

Dina Kucera is the granddaughter of an alcoholic, the daughter of and alcoholic and an addict and herself an alcoholic and addict.  Is it any wonder then that all three of Kucera's daughters also because addicts?  This is the true story of Kucera's family that also includes her husband and sometimes his twin, her mother who suffers from Parkinson's disease and her grandson who has cerebral palsy.

When I was first offered this book, I knew that if it were a work of fiction I would say that the author was trying to do too much.  But you literally cannot make some of this stuff up.  Like the fact that Kucera is a stand-up comic.  Can you even imagine someone who has had this kind of life finding anything to laugh about?  Kucera does bring some of that humor to the book but most of the time she is brutally honest.  She makes no excuses and does not try to back away from taking her share of the blame for what happened to her daughters.  When Kucera was married to her youngest daughter's father, she started to become a mean drunk who picked fights night after night.
"I would scream things like that all night.  I know now the damage it caused to all three of our girls.  I wish I could erase it, but I can't.  I was a lunatic.  The girls started getting into trouble, and I would stagger to their rooms and slur my warnings about how alcohol problems run in our family.  Of course, this didn't include me because I went to work every day and I waited until seven thirty to drink...And they didn't take my advice.  They were teenagers, and they were drinking and using drugs regularly - just like their parents."
It clearly breaks Kucera's heart to think of all that her daughters have suffered through, but it is the experiences of her youngest, Carly, that seem to have been the hardest for her to deal with.  Maybe because Carly started using drugs even younger than her sisters.  Maybe it was because Kucera had to face the fact that she had failed yet another daughter.  Maybe it was just because it had reached the point where it was all too much to bear.
"Carly is nineteen now and has not been to school since she was thirteen.  She has never worked or had a driver's license or had anything or done anything that other people do.  She didn't smoke pot in junior high school and progress to other drugs as she got older.  She smoked pot one day and it seems like she was smoking heroin the next.  There is a slang term for smoking heroin: Chasing the dragon.  That's when Carly began circling the drain.  And because she was so young, it unfolded in front of our eyes as we watched in horror."
The book hops back and forth in time, which could be confusing, and in tense, which didn't really work for me.  Kucera tells "stories" in the book and these are in italics which I didn't understand the need for.  But Kucera pulled me into her family's story and it is a story I will not soon forget.  I defy you to read this book without becoming emotional--horrified, weepy-eyed, and, in the end, hopeful.  Hopeful that this family, who have been through so much, are finally on the road to a happier life.

To learn more about Kucera, visit her website, which including a reader's guide for book clubs and advice on what to do if you think your child is using drugs.  For a full listing of other reviews of this book, visit TLC Book Tours


  1. Oh wow, this sounds like a gut-wrenching book, and I honestly don't know if I could handle it. I liked your thoughtful analysis on it, but it sounds like it might be a tough read for me.

  2. Oh my, I don't think I could survive in an environment like that...

    It sounds horrific, to say the least.

  3. I have this book coming up. It sounds like the writing could use a bit of tightening. I figured if the author could be a stand up comic after all that that her story must be pretty interesting.

  4. You would need a sense of humor to survive all that. Oh my gosh, it pained me just to read the summary of all that despair.

  5. It's that one line, "in the end, hopeful" that clinches this one for me.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour - this book truly sounds stranger than fiction.

  6. Thank you Lisa for the beautiful review! I hope your holidays are amazing! And thank you all the above people for taking time to comment:) Thanksgiving was amazing, so on to the next big thing! Santa and then I get a new grandson the beginning of January! All any house needs is a laptop, a flat screen and a baby. Bless you all everyday!:) Dina Kucera