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Crystal Lies Paperback – October 19, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Carlson's Crystal Lies brings to life the horror of crystal methamphetamine addiction. Hapless Glennis Harmon, who thought she was a typical suburban wife and mother, wakes up one day to find her resentful teenage son, Jacob, addicted to meth, the "poor man's cocaine." In the bargain, Glennis' high-rolling husband is having an affair. Carlson's story is as much about a middle-aged woman's melancholy coping as it is about drugs, but Carlson makes the point that an addiction has ripple effects: on an indulgent mother; a self-righteous sister; and a stern, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may father. Carlson provides no easy answers; instead, she offers a realistic portrait of addictive behavior, the trap of enabling, and the always incomplete process of recovery. Crystal Lies isn't as clever as Carlson's portrait of the ravages of schizophrenia, Finding Alice, but it's every bit as valuable for bewildered parents--and therapists. John Mort
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“Raw, real, and provocative, Crystal Lies thrusts us into a world inhabited by more people than we may realize on the surface. This account of one mother’s struggle for the healing of her drug-addicted son speaks to anyone who has ever loved anyone else. Melody Carlson never fails to drag us out of our Christian easychairs and right into the coals of the confusing culture in which we all find ourselves. She never fails to reveal that place of compassion within each of us. Excellent.”
–Lisa Samson, author of The Church Ladies and Tiger Lillie

“As an addiction specialist, I was moved by Crystal Lies. With great confidence, I can say that Melody Carlson’s story will enlighten, encourage, and empower you. Read this book; walk through its pages toward healthy God-directed relationships.”
–Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Counseling & Health Resources, Inc.

“An honest, doesn’t-pull-any-punches, look at the reality of addiction and codependency in Christian families. Told in Carlson’s adept style, this is a novel that will lead readers into the light of a powerful God who stands firm and loves beyond all measure and who delights in meeting His children inside the world’s most impenetrable, convoluted issues. I found myself praying Carlson’s prayers over my own children as I lay in bed. Read, enjoy, and–most important–pass this along to everyone you know who is struggling with addiction.”
–Deborah Bedford, author of If I Had You, Just Between Us and When You Believe

“‘Crystallize: to coat with sugar.  To give a definite and permanent form.’  So says the American Heritage Dictionary.  Melody Carlson’s Crystal Lies creates a permanent image of a family in pain and the various ways they chose to sugar coat their lives rather than face it.  We are this family, whether touched by methamphetamine use, alcohol addiction, super-perfection and adultery or not.  We are this family because we avoid, separate, pretend blindness, live inside fogs of drugs or denial because to face the pain alone is just too great.  What Melody reveals through her crisp yet tender words is that we are not alone even when we separate ourselves.  God has chosen to bring each of us closer.  We are given the gift of hope and the definite and permanent form of God’s love to take us through the lies, the pain and disappointment into a steadied peace.  Melody’s Crystal Lies is brilliant.  Her best.”
–Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of The Tender Ties series

“Melody Carlson knows addiction is an issue that affects not only addicts, but their families, their friends, their associates. And she shows that, when the addict is a believer, addiction affects the body of Christ. Crystal Lies is a wonderful lesson, taught the way Jesus taught–in story. I recommend it especially to those of us who have thought we were being charitable when we looked at those marginalized by addiction and thought, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ Carlson's highly personable prose puts that viewpoint on its ear, and teaches us to see it as, ‘Here we are together, in need of God's grace.’ Crystal Lies is clearly truth–revealed in fiction.”
– Tom Morrisey, author of Yucatan Deep and Turn Four

“Crystal Lies pulls no punches about the emotional devastation caused by addictions, and yet offers beautiful, accessible hope.  Having been through the turmoil of addictive behavior in my own family, I wept with both the agony and the joy of what I read.  Don't miss this book!”
– Janelle Burnham Schneider, author of “From Carriage to Marriage” in the Brides for a Bit anthology and “A Distant Love” in the Christmas Duty anthology

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press; First Edition edition (October 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578568404
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578568406
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,620,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including Romantic Time's Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at

Customer Reviews

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By on November 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
Glennis Harmon's life is wedged firmly between a rock and a hard place: her unforgiving, tough-love-minus-the-love husband, Geoffrey, and their drug-abusing, lying-through-his-teeth son, Jacob. When the conflict between the two men drives a wedge between her and her husband, Glennis opts to provide a safe place where her son can get the love and support she believes he needs. In doing so, she places her marriage on the line and threatens to do more harm than good to Jacob.

It doesn't help that Sarah, the Harmons' college-age daughter, has planted herself firmly in her father's camp, providing little comfort to Glennis and none to Jacob, who at 19 has traded in school for a string of dead-end jobs and a group of deadbeat friends whose main goal in life is to partake of the narcotic du jour. It also doesn't help that Geoff Harmon serves in a high-profile position as city attorney, or that the Harmons are well-known in the community as a model church-going family.

Hesitant to expose her family for what it has become, Glennis keeps the worst of her pain inside, hiding it even from her friend Sherri. But the situation with Jacob escalates --- or degenerates --- to the breaking point for her. She shares the truth about Jacob's addiction with Sherri, who proves instrumental in helping Glennis navigate her way through the mess her family is in --- a mess that includes the secret life Geoff has been living for six months or more.

Embedded in the title CRYSTAL LIES are at least three symbols integral to the plot: the false promises of crystal meth, Jacob's current drug of choice; the transparency of the many lies Jacob tells his mother and himself; and a Waterford crystal vase that represents the Harmons' shattered marriage.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Sutton on June 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
I've worked in the field of addiction for over 15 years and Melody's story Crystal Lies is an emotionally accurate and powerful illustration of the damage that drug addiction causes in families, right down to utter devastation. Especially intravenous drug addiction. Meth is one of the most destructive drugs available today. If one of my sons was addicted to that poison it would no doubt destroy me emotionally if I didn't have Christ to carry me through. Melody shows how God can use tragedy to grow the believer in their faith and how God uses the love and support of others to bring the hurting into a realm of healing. For any parent dealing with addiction or even the spouse of an addict, this book is a must. Excellent story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steve Barber on June 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a woman married to an alcoholic, this is a great book. It deals very accurately with how addictions affect families and how they can deal with them in so many different ways. I am so glad this book has been written. Wish more were like this. I really recommend this book!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Mobley on January 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
Melody Carlson was able to put me in the shoes of the one who loves the addict. I felt her pain, frustration, indecision, guilt and need to help. Codependency is almost as bad as being dependent. Thank you Melody for sharing a truly amazing and moving story. A must read for any mother of an addict.
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