As a longtime admirer of all things Sarah Hepola, I couldn't wait to get my hands on her memoir Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget.
Sarah is a friend of a friend and was my editor at Salon. I've probably read everything she's ever written so I knew she quit drinking for good a few years ago. I was intrigued, but also a little alarmed that she felt her drinking was so out of control she needed to join AA and write a whole book about it. True be told, Sarah could probably turn an uneventful trip to the dentist into a page-turner. But it still made me wonder, did Sarah really drink that much more than me? How much was too much, exactly? Did I need to give up booze too?
Sarah’s adventures with booze begin early, real early. She learned to love the taste of beer at age seven, which was an atypical extracurricular activity for a smart white girl in the posh part of Dallas. As others warmed to the allure of alcohol, she used it as a way to fit in without feeling self-conscious or to stand out as a fun blonde not afraid to moon a car full of co-eds.
After awhile, the parties began to die down and shit got real. “I had wanted alcohol to make me fearless, but by the time I’d reached my mid-30s, I was scared all the time,” she wrote. Throughout the book, she shares many stories that will make you scared for her, especially if you can see yourself in them.
Addiction memoirs are a dime a dozen, but what is so great about Blackout is the grayness of it all. Alcohol isn't black and sobriety isn't white. She never portrays herself as a victim of alcoholism, nor casts herself as a hero for defeating its pull on her. Her story is as real and insightful as they come.
Besides being a fabulously written book, Hepola’s memoir will make you examine why you drink, what it does for you, and what it does to your life.