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on Jan. 26, 2012 :
(From my blog, Word Vagabond: Supporting Independent and Small Press Authors.)
When Jennifer Place entered a substance abuse treatment center for the first time, she was fresh out of jail and drinking four bottles of wine a day. She had given away custody of her two children, married a man she didn’t love, and moved several states away, all in a haze of alcohol. This book describes her journey through five treatment programs, struggling to free herself from her toxic relationship with drinking.
The book begins just after Place’s husband has her hauled off to jail, which is definitely an attention-grabbing way to start. Unfortunately, this is immediately followed by a chapter that tries to sum up her entire history up until that point in just a few pages. The result is confusing and feels rushed.
Thankfully, the book gets much easier to read after that. Place’s descriptions of her time in jail and rehab are vivid and interesting. Her voice gets stronger and more confident chapter by chapter, which helps the reader feel the progress she is making underneath her continuing addiction.
Watching her enter each new treatment center and then relapse time and again is frustrating, but that’s what makes this an authentic story: there are no easy answers, no quick fixes. It would be nice to see more of the internal work she was doing while in treatment, though. She talks about doing constant journaling and introspection, but never shares the results of that work. She also doesn’t discuss why she started drinking in the first place, which I think would be a crucial detail for this kind of memoir.
Even as a person who has never struggled with addiction, I found a lot of empathize with in her story. Place’s severe anxiety attacks were all too familiar, and I actually found those parts emotionally difficult to read because they described perfectly experiences I have gone through. It was easy for me to understand how difficult it was to recover from alcohol abuse and try to manage severe anxiety at the same time.
Apart from the story, Saturation would have benefited from more thorough copy-editing. While there weren’t a crippling number of typos and style errors, they were a bit distracting.
I think this is a valuable memoir for anyone who wants a better understanding of alcohol addiction, or even the possible effects of severe anxiety.
(reviewed 86 days after purchase)
on Jan. 19, 2012 :
This book is funny and sad and depressing and funny...already said that. But it takes a humorous side to a bad ailment, alcoholism. If there is a humorous side. I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to others.
(reviewed 45 days after purchase)
on Jan. 17, 2012 :
Saturation is a memoir written by Jennifer Place, documenting her very real odyssey of battling alcoholism, dysfunctional family relationships, a toxic marriage to an enabler, and her journey towards self-discovery and sobriety.
This was not an easy story to read, but I admire the realistic, no holds barred, straight talking account that Ms. Place uses to tell her story. As a non-drinker that has had alcoholism affect both sides of my family, Jennifer's account of her bout with alcoholism and struggle to gain sobriety horrified me, I went through a roller coaster ride of emotions as she described her daily drinking habit of four bottles of wine, and the occasional doses of vodka, I just couldn't imagine how the hell she lived to tell her story. I totally got what the title Saturation stands for, she saturated herself with alcohol on a daily basis to get through the withdrawals, and to be able to go about her daily life. My heart breaks for everyone who goes through this on a daily basis, and it just cemented in my mind how horrible a disease alcoholism really is.
Jennifer's struggle to overcome alcoholism was coupled with the dysfunctional relationship that she had with her family, and the toxic marriage to an enabler that she basically hated. Can you just imagine the hell that she was living? In her memoir, she feels that she was a terrible mother, who gave her two sons to their fathers to raise, and she writes that she felt guilt ridden for doing this. I do not agree that she was a bad mother, Jennifer, I applaud you for being a mother who cared enough to allow your sons to grow up in stable home environments, and your greatest gift is that they are both well-adjusted young men. The other thing that I would like to comment on is the family dynamic. While I can understand the author's dysfunctional relationship with her father, I would be remiss if I didn't say that from a family member's standpoint, who had to deal with an alcoholic father's verbal abuse, family members feel helpless as they watch their loved ones go through this terrible disease, and any attempt to help are often met with resistance and verbal attacks which we endure because through all of this, the simple fact is that we love our family member no matter what. As for the toxic short-lived marriage, I am so glad that Jennifer finally took a stand and put that behind her. As long as there is an enabler in the relationship, a person's constant struggle with alcoholism would take precedence over gaining sobriety and maintaining it.
Jennifer's account of the five times that she went through in-patient treatment, and her struggle to maintain sobriety only to relapse each time, demonstrated the reality of alcoholism as an ongoing struggle that a person endures in order to achieve sobriety and maintain it. As I read about each of the five times she was in treatment, I cheered for her, hoping that she would find herself and gain that sobriety. My heart broke each time she relapsed, and when her journey towards sobriety was finally achieved, I rejoiced over the strength that she displayed to finally be able to put that traumatic part of her life behind her.
I would recommend reading Saturation, whether you are addicted to alcohol, or have a loved one that is addicted, as it may provide a sense of reality and hope that alcohol addiction can be overcome and sobriety gained.
Disclaimer: At the request of the author, a Kindle edition of this book was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review.
(reviewed 80 days after purchase)
on Jan. 02, 2012 :
An exploration of Jennifer's alcoholism, catastrophic marriage, jail, and attempts at recovery. This is good, meaty writing on an inherently attention keeping topic (for me, at least). She writes with a level of awareness and ability to communicate just what it feels like. And a dash of humour. I felt the ending a bit abrupt and it seemed to skip over the best bit - how she actually got onto the recovery road, and it was only after reading other reviews that I realised that there was no total recovery, but just a constantly shifting balance, where the accumulation of insights small and large try and outweigh the history of her drinking choices. My reservation is that she is very insistent that her situation was unique, that only she was aware of the real issues, that no one else had her triggers, that no one else drank like she did. And although she vocally insisted on her boundaries and right to be heard when others impinged (not without reason, it seems a constant battle to remind jaded institutional people that you are not just your addiction, but that a living, breathing, empathy and respect worthy person is standing in front of them), she seemed to dismiss everyone else - staff, fellow recoverers, family. It really brought home that there is only room enough for one in an addict's circle of concern. There is definitely clarity and insight to be had here though, and I hope she keeps nurturing and developing them.
(reviewed 26 days after purchase)
on Dec. 30, 2011 :
I've had this book for a while. It was given to me by the author for an honest review. I've put off reading it because I thought it might be a difficult read. I've had first hand experience with dealing with alcoholics, and it is not a pleasant experience. I've become somewhat jaded as I've seen the 'falling off the wagon' far more than success with sobriety.
Jennifer writes about her struggles overcoming alcoholism. Have you ever been driving and come upon an accident, seeing the police and ambulance at the scene? You know how we all slow down to 'peak' at what's happening? That's how I felt while reading this book. I was watching as Jennifer went through her voyage of self discovery. I don't think I would have been able to express myself as well as she has. She doesn't hold anything back.
I found myself rooting for her to maintain sobriety- I want to see her succeed.
I would love to read about her a few years down the road, Good Luck to you Jennifer!
(reviewed 61 days after purchase)
on Dec. 28, 2011 :
Disclaimer: I received this book free and was asked to write a review. The review is my honest opinion.
Jennifer Place writes about her struggle to get sober. As someone who has alcoholics in their family, I was very interested to learn why it is so hard to not drink. I thought it was just a matter of willpower and wanting to stop. This book showed me there was so much more involved.
While reading the book, I was not fond of Ms. Place. She wrote herself as being very unlikable, someone with no tact whatsoever. I believe this is how she was until she got sober. Although many people do not like bull, she seemed to take her dislike to extremes, especially when in treatment.
I think the book has more potential than how it is now written, The book could use better storytelling and better editing. I learned a lot about alcoholism. The ability of one's body to adapt to the amount of alcohol consumed, the bad choices one makes when not sober, and what it really takes to get and stay sober.
Although I didn't like the way the author wrote herself, I couldn't help but root for her throughout the whole book. I wanted her to succeed in getting sober, once and for all. It's worth the read if only to learn more about alcoholism and overcoming it.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)
on Dec. 27, 2011 :
If I hadn't gotten this for free as an early reviewer I would not have finished it. I read a 2-3 books per week from a large range of genres, most are mediocre but a book has to be really bad for me to leave it partially finished.
The worst thing for me was that this could be a good book. The story is interesting and drinking memoirs are popular right now. A good, critical editor would have improved it, but as-is it reads like a rough draft with no editing. There are grammatical mistakes throughout the book and the writing is incredibly awkward. I read this on my Kindle and found a piece of text to highlight (for grammar, awkward wording, etc...) on a every page. There aren't very many sentences on a Kindle page, especially given the odd formatting of this book.
Sometimes the writing is simply bad:
"The mattress...had to weigh around a lot of pounds."
But at other times it's so poorly worded that it's difficult to understand:
"I took something that had nothing to do with me personally."
Did she steal something even though it meant nothing to her or did she become emotionally involved in something which had nothing to do with her? Of course you can figure it out from context but it never should have gotten past a halfway decent editor or 8th grade English teacher.
On one page the author writes "I needed to move to the PNW..." This is the first mention of this phrase yet she immediately uses initials. That's quite the mistake but she compounds it a short while later with this passage "'RJC' She answered. ...like I was supposed to know what those three letters stood for." So the reader was supposed to automatically understand the author but when others do the same thing the author finds it offensive.
That is the other issue I had with this book - the author is extremely unlikeable. She makes snap judgements over trivialities - "Liar. He was a hair over 6'8" and rounded up." Estimating height to within an inch would be quite a talent. She harshly judges the behavior of other alcoholics as if it's not an addiction and a disease while expecting her father to understand her behavior in terms of addiction (rather than a free choice). She includes odd descriptive details but does it randomly, as if she's suddenly remembered that she should be descriptive.
Again, this could be a good book. The author needs to take some writing classes, spend six months reading every decent memoir she can find and find a really tough editor who will help her improve her writing so that it reads like a finished book and not a rough draft.
(reviewed 19 days after purchase)
on Dec. 10, 2011 :
I won this ebook from a Library Thing Member's giveaway. I was interested in this book because of the fact that alcoholism runs in my family. I've always been curious of what life was like for them with their struggles with alcohol but I've always been too afraid to ask them. This book helped me better understand what they are going through.
Jennifer Place, in this memoir, writes about her struggles with alcohol; from going to jail, to being in and out of treatment facilities. Place doesn't hold back in the book, she describes her struggle with such honesty that you as a reader feel that you are taking her journey with her. At times I felt myself a tad annoyed with her when she would use biting words at others but that's just who she is and she doesn't apologize for it. The ending seemed a little abrupt to me, but I would love to in the future hear more about her journey
(reviewed 4 days after purchase)
on Sep. 27, 2011 :
I’m a pretty busy guy, and if I can’t put a book down it gets 5 stars. Also, I could really relate to the authors battle for survival, and in no way could have verbally expressed what she managed to put into writing. I don’t fully agree with another review here… but hey, I don’t need to. Her final insight took me straight into my own thoughts about myself and where I am in my journey. I didn’t feel the ending lacked anything… it kept me open to the possibility she may yet survive. As stated, there are a few errors but i really didn't feel it hindered her story or the message at all, it flowed easily... read on kindle.. Andy
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)
Sandra K Woodiwiss
on May 31, 2011 :
Saturation, exhausted me.
I’m not a reader that will read a book just to finish it. If the book does not interest me, if it is poorly written, I won’t continue.
Saturation took up a lot of my time and simply because the author’s life spread before me with such surgical, calculated pain; the book was fascinating I could not look away.
The author did not ramble and almost had a third party, journalistic view point of her life. I found myself thinking about the book when I was not reading it - a good sign. I found myself when I was finished sort of wrung out, as if I had run a long race. I can still feel that rubbery sort of numbness in my limbs thinking about the author’s life – completely saturated.
This is not light reading and it is not for the faint of heart. You will find yourself enraged and walking away – telling yourself you won’t pick up that **** book again. You will go back to it – you are compelled to go back to the book.
If you have a family member who is on the self-destruct road of alcoholism and you are searching for answers perhaps this book will help – it did not help me in that capacity. I was not searching for a connection or guidance, I wanted to read the book as an objective human being – I did not stay objective, I became emotionally involved.
I felt myself arguing with her decisions and questioning her complaints and pulling her away from her addictions. Then I realized – hey, I would be part of the problem too. I realized that as the book ended.
Again, I need to go back to that “exhausted,” feeling. As the book concludes and I realize that her journey was one of self-discovery and that wanting her to be sober was not enough – even her desire to be sober was not enough, she needed to deal with why she drank not how to get beyond drinking.
We’ve all heard that an addicted person needs to meet rock bottom, an addicted person needs to want sobriety. I realized when I completed the book that I had been wrestling with this author all through her words – she allowed me to enter her world. She did not come out, words blazing telling me to back off; she showed me my own controlling desires I never realized. That’s what a good book does – enlightens the reader. It was like grabbing the wheel during a high-speed chase and understanding you can’t drive from the passenger side.
Ms Place, I appreciate your work, your diligence and I would recommend and am recommending your writing. Thanks for your insight and best of luck.
(reviewed 32 days after purchase)
on May 24, 2011 :
The story is compelling and the writing is very good.
There are technical issues with fonts (at least on the Kindle version) and it could benefit from a little more proofreading.
It's hard to rate the book as a whole because while it's a definite page turner, the reader is left with a conflicting message of who the real victim(s) is(are) of alcoholism. As a daughter of an alcoholic, I am disappointed in the conclusions drawn about how a parent's nightmarish journey through alcoholism affects loved ones. I was left with a hollow feeling of lessons not fully learned, and in a way, this comes across as a memoir Part I.
(reviewed 26 days after purchase)