27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2012
Everyone probably has endured some of the frustrations and pain dealing with addiction or a loved one's struggles with the debilitating disease of addiction. The media is often filled with celebrities and professional athletes journies dealing with addiction. Too often the antics of a chemically dependent celebrity is not treated like a tragedy until their eventual death. TMZ and other tabloids sometimes make light of the truly destructive nature surrounding addicts of their families, friends, health,careers, and finances.
"Some Are Sicker Than Others" details the struggles and destructive nature in an exceptionally well written and informative look on the inside of the addiction journey. Mr. Seaward's colorful characters development is superb and you will truly believe you know, have known ,or will know some of these people in the future. The accurate inclusion of codependency and a vivid look into the recovery and rehab efforts is educational and informative. The suspense of what will happen next makes this a true page turner hard to set aside once you begin.
I will look forward to future offerings from this talented author.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2012
Emotionally raw and harrowingly real, Some Are Sicker than Others is a moving story of redemption. Crack-addict Dave Bell and alcoholic Monty Miller both struggle through the consequences of a life-changing event: Dave's mentally disabled son, Larry, accidentally ran him over with a golf cart, injuring his leg and putting an end to his athletics career, while Monty's fiancée, also a recovering alcoholic, was killed in a car accident, after which Monty relapsed, embarking on a suicide mission. These two troubled men meet in a rehabilitation center in the wintery mountains of Colorado, their paths intertwining more than they could have imagined.
The thoroughly cultivated iced-over setting provides a backdrop for the story; one can easily concoct in one's mind the snowy, mountainous landscape Seaward paints with his words. The perfect pitch of the language in developing the mid-winter Colorado setting and the deep-cutting emotional environment is perhaps the novel's strongest point.
Due to the subject matter of the book, it can be difficult to read in many places, though it is important to absorb every word in order to get the full effect of the story. While some events can appear too intense or too harrowing for the reader to take in all at once, the events are never unrealistic. Always plausible, even inevitable, the mistakes these characters make are mistakes that the quintessential addict makes. The violence, disturbing behavior, one-sided motivations, and lack of compassion, especially in Dave, are so well-drawn and realistic that it can be emotionally draining to read, but in a good way, if a novel about drug addiction can do anything in "a good way."
Each mistake is vital in Dave and Monty's path toward redemption, even, or perhaps most particularly, in the scene when Dave is finally caught by the police; driving a school bus full of terrified high school volleyball players, as well as the eleven-year-old Larry, Dave accelerates upwards of ninety miles per hour, and when he is pulled over and arrested for the possession of crack, his mentally challenged son is tasered for attempting to defend him. One often finds oneself literally begging Dave to get a hold of his problems, to see beyond the haze of his addiction, as if he were a character in a horror movie about to open a cellar door where a monster resides. This is another of Seward's strengths--he drags the reader into the character's head so deeply that no matter how disturbed his mind is, the reader yearns for his redemption. Dave and Monty's motives are clear, the reasons for them going down the path to addiction defined, and their denial and emotional toil distinct.
Though Some Are Sicker than Others is unrelenting, gut-wrenching, and needs to be taken in a chunk at a time rather than in a few sittings, it is the gritty truth of how addiction can ravage a human life--but it also offers a glimpse of the capacity of human forgiveness.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2012
Wow, this is brutal, honest, brave, depressing, and extremely well written. Andrew, you are a very talented young man and you have written a brilliant novel which totally strips every mask off of what addiction involves and shows the horrible disease for the monster that it is. But this is not just a 'tell-it-all', this is an excellent novel written by a gifted author.
Your imagery is so vivid and your dialogue is as authentic as your story itself. The undisguised, frank portrayal of your characters is awesome: Monty, in an AA program that he doesn't really believe in but wants to make Vicky happy, the co-dependency between them, and Monty's guilt over his treatment of his parents and his denial of his own reality as he rushes off, driving through the snow with Vicky by his side. Coach Dave, the total crack addict, dissatisfied with his job, his marriage, his obese wife, Cheryl, and his chidren, Megan, Mary, and his son,Larry with Klinefelter's syndrome.
Monty doesn't face the reality of where he is headed and neither does Dave. Monty's problem results in a car wreck killing Vicky and Dave's denial and indulgence in obscene sexual fantasies as well as grandiose behavior leads to the death (I think?) of his own son, Larry, after the police stop Dave's bus and mistakenly think Larry is attacking them.
Your final uploaded chapter takes us back to Monty who is now attempting to drink himself to death - literally.
This is a very dark, harsh, unmerciful look at addiction with unrelenting exposure of its consequences. It is a story that should be told and if I were not retired, this would be required reading for my students in the course I taught on addiction. You have written the story brilliantly, Andrew. Don't ever doubt your ability as a writer.
All of us who have written any type of manuscript have received tons of rejections and those accepted by traditional publishers are usually celebrities or well-known people. I'm telling you this because I don't want you to become discouraged as you seek publication. It may be that you will have to go some route other than traditional publishers, but whatever you do, please get this published or publish it yourself. You certainly have my best wishes for the success of your work regardless of how it's published.
Sincerely, Patricia Laster
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2012
This novel is a powerful, honest read. It definitely took a lot of heart and soul to write and forces you to keep turning the pages. It gets into the minds of people battling some of the hardest trials a human can go through: looking at yourself in the mirror and deciding if you are going to be honest with yourself and the ones you love.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2013
Andrew Seaward's Some Are Sicker Than Others is quite well written, with a straightforward, unadorned, smoothly flowing prose style that effortlessly carries the reader along as the author tells his story. Though much of what is described is violent, terrifying, and fraught with abysmal hopelessness, guilt, and shame, the author does a remarkably good job of maintaining an even and understated tone. Yes, there are eruptions, but they do not take the story uncontrollably over the top as the author loses thematic control of his novel. Instead, Seaward manages to hold things together while still describing scenes that in some instances are almost too hard to take.
Alcoholism and drug addiction are conditions that we all know at least a little something about. We've heard of Alcoholics Anonymous or AA and Narcotics Anonymous or NA, and we may know that many among us, based on their deeply personal and painful experience, describe both organizations as life savers. Until I read Seaward's novel, however, I suspected that these laudatory characterizations might be self-serving exaggerations delivered by narcissistic weaklings and perhaps fostered by the organizations themselves. But Some Are Sicker Than Others does an almost overwhelming job of showing us just how powerful and sickeningly destructive addiction to alcohol, crack, and other seductively insidious substances can be. Seaward has written a book that is probably best read a few chapters at a time. Otherwise, I found it getting inside my head, hitting too close to home, and making me depressed.
I've done program evaluation for addiction treatment facilities in Pennsylvania and Florida, and I thought I understood the human cost of this pernicious phenomenon when it gets out of control. But Seaward's novel gave me insights that never would have occurred to me, at least not in way that is sufficiently forceful to really understand the vise-like grip of addiction and the feelings of helplessness and self-loathing with which it imbues its victims. Perhaps the most painful experiences are those endured by an addict that wants out. Every moment of sobriety, assuming there are some, is a new opportunity to quit. But the only way to escape the pain and anguish that comes with not using is by using again. So you use, and you fail again, telling yourself that you'll do better next time. Cycling through this sequence hundreds, even thousands of times is almost certain to be terminally depressing, making the hunger for the transient relief of drugs and alcohol even stronger. Seaward's case studies of Monty and Sam are especially effective at enabling the reader to understand this self-mortifying process and concretely demonstrating the damage that is wrought. Dexter, moreover, is a believable recovering alcoholic turned therapist who understands Monty and Sam better than they understand themselves.
We are left with the question, though, of why some of us succumb to addiction while others do not. Fundamentally, Seaward's novel takes the position that addiction is a real but inexplicable disease. Its cause is not something that he purports to know, and there is no cure, only an ongoing process of recovery, meaning abstinence. Due to the influence of AA and similar organizations, these have become conventional ideas. Nevertheless, it's interesting to see how Seaward treats everything that interferes with recovery as symptomatic of the disease itself. Feelings of guilt are presented as especially troublesome for those who would overcome their addictions. Ironically, for the most part they feel guilty because of things they've done that were part and parcel of their addiction. In any case, not coming to terms with the etiology of addiction does nothing to diminish the power of Seaward's novel. In fact, not understanding the cause of this destructive disease makes it even more insidious and frightening. Besides, what would be gained by acknowledging that conventional medical wisdom holds that genetic factors are more important than social circumstances in creating addicted people?
Some Are Sicker Than Others is not a book for everyone. Much of it is so ugly and suffused with hopelessness that some readers may be forced to turn away and put it down. This sort of response is not due to a deficiency of the book or to the reader's lack of courage. It's a measure of the author's skill in capturing some of the worst that can afflict us. A hard story, indeed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Andrew Seaward, in his mesmerizing novel SOME ARE SICKER THAN OTHERS ,not only weaves an exceptionally well-constructed story with wholly credible characters, managing to open our hearts to create a group of people who seem without the ability to gain our concern, but even more importantly he offers deeper insights and relates more factual information about the disease of addiction than any other writer to date. Yes, there is a plethora of books that clinically describe the genesis and the process and the sequelae of substance abuse from alcohol to methamphetamine to crack cocaine to heroin to prescription drugs and combinations of these. There are also novels that incorporate addicted personages in the cast of characters, using that person or those persons to elucidate the effect on families and friends and the public in general from their addiction. But Seaward takes us a startling leap forward: he not only understands the socioeconomic and psychological and, yes, criminal impact these people create, but he also displays such a profound understanding of the physiological/medical aspects of addiction that we are left tot wonder if he hasn't been down the path of his characters himself - or at least in close enough proximity to discover the details he weaves into this book!
What we know about Andrew Seaward is that he is a chemical engineer, a participant in screenwriting and an actor (no surprise, given his magnetically handsome looks). Now we know that he is a writer of exceptional gifts, one poised at the beginning of a major new career.
Seaward jumps right into the world of addiction from page one when he introduces Monty and his fiancé Vicky in the room of an AA meeting. In rapid sequences there is a hit and run accident and Monty as driver survives but Vicky dies. Having established this portion of the story we then meet Dave, a has-been track star whose family suffers from his addiction to crack and that effect extends to his career as the coach of a girls' volleyball team whom he endangers. Seaward brings back Monty into the picture, some time after the accident that has made him so depressed that he is intentionally killing himself with alcohol poisoning. The two men - Monty and Dave- are thrust together in an isolated rehab center and all the secrets of their backgrounds surface with tsunamic force. How Seaward resolves their collision brings a sound conclusion to the book.
The story is strong and well related and would make a fine film. But what sets Andrew Seaward's talent above the rest is his understanding of the physicochemical aspects of substance abuse/addition. Example, as Monty is attempting to drink himself to death he relates the following: `He bent his head forward and started rubbing his eyelids, digging away the mucus that was crusted in the corners of his eyes. As he brought his hands down, he caught a whiff of something strong and chemical, fanning from his fingertips and out beneath his nose. He knew what it was. It was the acetaldehyde, a byproduct of the dehydrogenation of alcohol in the blood. For a normal drinker, it hung out for only a matter of minutes before being broken down by a substance in the liver called glutathione. But for alcoholics, the chemical hung around almost indefinitely, because there wasn't enough glutathione to combat the massive amounts of alcohol entering the blood. The result was a stench not unlike that of vinegar or nail polish remover, emanating from the sweat pores like a bad case of B.O. It was so strong that other people would often comment on it, but Monty usually just told them that he was trying out a new cologne.'
Intensive knowledge such as this is rare in current writing and this is only one example of how keenly each of the characters and their substance abuses are observed and defined. This is a masterful touch to an already exceptional story. Writers of this caliber don't come around frequently, but when they do we need to be alerted to the potential their initial offering suggests. Andrew Seaward is a uniquely talented writer. He should go far. Grady Harp, April 12
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2012
Three people with addictions to three different substances, Monty to alcohol, Dave to crack cocaine, and Angie to crystal meth, all end up in trouble with the law and sent to the same rehabilitation facility up on a mountain in Colorado. This book, through fiction, gives you a portrait of what addiction can do to a person's life and how it develops over time. While in the rehab, these three strangers come to know one another and find out that their lives outside of rehab were interconnected in one way or another. Will any of them complete rehab successfully? Will all of them even survive?
While the writing in this book is not a quality that I would call literary or sophisticated, it is technically fine and the pace is steady. The characters are well-developed and, to some degree, they all evolve as the story progresses. One of them goes in the wrong way, one of them makes progress, and one of them remains resolutely stuck, by intention. But which one is which? The story pulls no punches and gives the reader the dark side of extreme addiction. I have had some experience dealing with individuals with addictions and have had several trainings in theories related to treating addictions, and I found nothing in this book that did not ring true. The author, Andrew Seaward, gives an accurate portrayal of addiction, the effects on the people addicted and their families, and what can occur during a stay at a rehab facility. By using three different people with different backgrounds, the author also sends the message that addiction does not recognize many boundaries.
I received a free copy of this book, in exchange for agreeing to do an objective review. A longer review of the same book, by me, appears on another site.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2013
DISCLAIMER: This book contains a lot of graphic language and explicitl scenes. Not recommended for a young reader.
The story is told through the narrative of three addicts: M0nty is an alcoholic who had been sober for a year until his fiance died in a car crash, for which he feels responsible; Dave is a self-delusional crack addict, high school volleyball coach who blames everyone else for his problems; Angie is a meth-head whose marriage has fallen apart and begins her story with a sexual relationship with a man who used to date her high school daughter.
These, certainly, are sick individuals.
As the novel develops, their stories merge as they meet at a rehabilitation center called The Sanctuary. Throughout the book, I couldn't help but ask myself, "Which one of these is the sickest?" Every time I thought I had the "sickest" one pinned down, a turn of events revealed a new title winner.
Andrew Seaward does a phenomenal job in his characterization. He admitted to me that he pulled some material from his own life experience, but this is often when authors create charicatures instead of characters. Seaward pulls it off without falling for this trap, and does so rather well.
The writing style packs a punch, but at times it hits so hard with graphic descriptions that I had to actually skip pages because the scene felt so immediate and painful. For example, there is a moment when Monty finds himself in the hospital after a night of binging. He tries to escape, but in order to get away he has to remove a urine cathater from inside himself. As a man, I couldn't help but shiver at the details.
Still, the quality of the book's prose allowed it to claim (and earn) the genre of literary fiction.
Sentences like these stood out:
As they wandered in, so did the stench of stale cigarettes, following them in like a stray cat from the cold.
The car was now completely filled with water, plummeting towards the bottom like a cinderblock.
He always felt better after his morning throw-up.
Real pain wasn't external ... it was internal. It was having to look at yourself in the mirror every f------ day.
As a reader, I was caught up with cheering for a group of addicts who maybe didn't deserve to be saved. Their actions, their violence, their delusions almost assure them self destruction. As the book progressed, it became harder and harder to determine which (if any) of these characters would make it out of The Sanctuary alive.
At any moment, any of them might rebound. Around every corner, there was an opportunity for healing and self discovery. If only I could figure out which of them was least sick.
Overall, the book provided a powerful, fast-paced read. The prose latches on and moves with a fierce velocity. Mayhem is already steaming down hill by the time the story even gets started. Not for the faint of heart.
There were only a few minor problems that ulitimately pushed for a four-star rating instead of a perfect five.
The first was that I had a hard time buying into the idea that the entire storyline took place in just a few weeks from start to finish. But this could be overlooked.
The second issue was the tremendous amount of rhetorical questions the characters posed throughout the book. I think bringing up a few rhetoricals to show a character's confusion or inner struggle is fine, but when the questions start adding up in the dozens they begin to make the novel feel unpolished. Many of these could have been rewritten as belief statements instead of questions and still achieve that sense of insecurity and instability, but without coming across repetitive or somewhat cluttered.
The final problem I had was the extremely heavy dose of explicit language and details used. Now, to be fair, all explicit language used to bring a character's drug addiction to life and make it feel real to the reader, that needed to stay. But there were moments when descriptions of depravity or sexually explicit content went overboard. For example, there was an extensive scene (which I had to skip) describing Dave (the high school volleyball coach) involved with pornography in his office at work. This scene must have gone on for 3 or 4 pages, something that could have been summarized to a paragraph and still achieve the desired effect for the sake of characterization.
What I loved about the book from a personal perspective is how well it depicted man's self delusion when caught in the midst of his addiction. Usually an addict turns defensive, combative and isolated. The novel helped reveal some of my own characteristics in dealing with a personal addiction (not drugs), which made a big statement about the story's realism.
The novel is a solid debut. It is believable, powerful and holds your face to the fumes of addiction in very imminent ways. Without a doubt, this book deserves four sick stars.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2012
The story plays out as a case study on addiction. If I had to pick the best thing about it, I would have to point to the author's mastery of the subject matter. He displays a masterful grasp on the mind of an addict.
The characters rely a bit much on that mastery and are otherwise somewhat two-dimensional, but that does not negatively impact the reader's enjoyment.
I may have purchased an early version of this work. I noticed the cover has changed. That said, the writing in my version needs some serious work. If you're a critic, as I am, you might find the stylistic flaws distracting at best.
All told, I'm glad I read it. If I had paid full retail for a paperback, I would be somewhat disappointed, but it's certainly worth a low cost digital purchase.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2013
Addiction is ugly, and this book lays it wide open for the reader to see. I thought the characters were well defined and believable. Throughout the book, I wanted to shake these people and smack some sense into the three main characters, as it is obvious to everyone except themselves how sick they truly are -- both physically and mentally. All three are in big time denial; it's painful to see where their addiction takes them and how they are living their lives; and you find yourself wondering, how can anyone live like that? It's also sad to see how their addiction effects the addicts' families. The book really came together at the rehab facility when you see how their lives were intertwined. Some reviewers were a bit disappointed at the end; I was not. I think the ending made perfect sense if you know anything about addiction and recovery. I agree that you are left wondering if the characters continued in their sobriety, but hey, that's a topic for another book!