Verdict: TEENAGE DEGENERATE is a heartbreaking, vivid account of the disintegration of human lives caused by crystal meth addiction, and of one young man's fight to get free before it kills him.
In 1996, Scott, a young adult with no goals or sense of purpose in life, tried crystal methamphetamine for the first time, and was hooked. From then on, his life became focused around his next fix, sometimes staying high for days on end. He quits or is fired from job after job, loses girlfriends, and encircles himself with fellow addicts willing to use or be used by him in order to get access to drugs. As he falls closer and closer to rock bottom, feeling his world degenerate around him, Scott becomes certain that if he goes on as he is, his only future will be death or life in prison – but can he escape the pull of addiction in time to save himself?
TEENAGE DEGENERATE is a poignant, disturbingly honest account of a young man’s life slipping away under the influence of crystal meth. Sterling doesn’t hold back in his descriptions of the effects of the drugs on Scott’s mind, body, and relationships, and the result is a striking and painful view of the damage that addiction can do to a person and a community. The book is stark, concise, and quietly dramatic without ever slipping into melodramatic hype or preaching. Its first-person perspective and simple language only make the horrific situations Scott faces appear even more vivid and unescapable. The same sentence occurs again and again through the book, like a drumbeat – “That was the last time I saw [Name],” or “I never saw [Name] again.” The repetition underscores and amplifies the losses, as one by one, people drop out of his life.
Scott is also a music fan, and throughout the book, he punctuates accounts of the concerts he attends with quiet reminders of this or that band member who died of an overdose, or was sent to a rehabilitation and treatment program due to struggles with drug addiction. At times, the book does feel overly repetitive, as Scott and his friends get high together, go do something stupid and reckless, almost get caught or killed, and Scott ends up feeling thoroughly sick and disgusted with himself, again and again. The ending would be rather too sudden and pat were this a fictional book, though it is quite improbable enough for a memoir – reality, of course, being far stranger than fiction is permitted to be.
TEENAGE DEGENERATE is a heartbreaking, vivid account of the disintegration of human lives caused by crystal meth addiction, and of one young man’s fight to get free before it kills him.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader