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Between the Shadow and Lo Kindle Edition
“A voice that was strong and cruel came from somewhere deep within me. When the voice split away and talked to me all by itself I started calling her Lo…She’d watched me at my lowest points and saved up a thousand slights, a million minor offenses. She forgave nothing, and now she wanted revenge.”
Leah is an alcoholic. She’s antisocial, self-destructive, and deeply damaged. She’s also battling a voice in her head she calls Lo, who wants to take over her body. Lo is everything Leah isn’t—beautiful, charming, confident, and ruthless in her desires. She commandeers Leah’s will whenever Leah gets too drunk, and acts as her escort through the rainy Seattle underworld.
As a misfit bibliophile, Leah’s conception of reality has never been rock solid, but as she spirals deeper into addiction the “real world” of bars, bikers, dealers, and addicts slowly dissolves into Lo’s dark vision. As Lo steadily tightens her hold, Leah prepares to make one last bid for survival, knowing her only chance is to transcend Lo’s terrifying drive toward death.
An addiction memoir from Lauren Sapala, Between the Shadow and Lo is a new addition to the gritty and hilarious transgressive fiction tradition of Chuck Palahniuk, Charles Bukowski, and Joshua Mohr.
- ASIN : B0757778WM
- Publication date : August 28, 2017
- Language : English
- File size : 3189 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 275 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,394,691 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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There's a lot of sex, some of it funny, some of it disturbing, but I do appreciate that Leah's not a sexual victim. In fact, she's an aggressor, sometimes to the point that I wondered if Leah was getting kickbacks from the neighborhood therapist some of these men might soon be seeing.
The back cover says Leah makes "one last bid for survival," and so I read the book with my Al-Anon glasses on, expecting her to hit bottom and start recovery at any moment. But no. This might be a book about pre-recovery, but it's not about recovery. Near the story's end, Leah makes what might be a bid for survival, but we don't really know. Will she make it past the next bar, let alone all the way into a brand new life? Others might read the ending differently, but to me, Lo's shadow still falls over the story. Or maybe that's the whole point!
The main character, Leah, struggles with alcohol. It's her numbing agent of choice that helps her deal with the residue of days past, heartbreak, and the general miasma of life. We feel for her constant letdowns and relationships with an unruly cast of characters. Eventually, Leah finds what she thinks is love in an alternate personality, Lo, but we discover the figment is only another avenue headed in the same downward direction.
Like many lives, there are punctuations of laugh-out-loud hijinks and hope, but everything's coated with a sense of pity and worry for Leah. We hope that by the time we reach the end of the book, she'll come out of the darkness and find her true identity.
Lauren writes with so much heart, you'd swear her prose was pumping blood. Her word choice, the way she paints a scene and the turmoil of the people populating her world, is beyond compare.
Even if you don't think this is a book for you, please, download the sample and give it an honest look. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Much of the book's plot is repetitive -- Leah gets drunk, Leah engages in self-destructive behavior, Leah is depressed, repeat -- but make no mistake, this is a page-turner. It takes an incredibly talented writer to take this kind of human misery and weave it into something you won't be able to put down.
But few of us just want to watch someone self-destruct. What makes Between the Shadow and Lo a must-read is that, without giving spoilers, in the end, it is a story of finding hope in the darkness.
Many passages of this book are written with breathtaking rawness and the author doesn't flinch from this trip through the shadows. In an admirable "show me, don't tell me" style, Lauren Sapala grabs your hand and makes you feel the Seattle wind and rain, smell the back seat of a cab, and look into the desperate, longing eyes of the characters. You will feel like you know them all and you'll want them to find the redemption they are searching for in the dive bars and crazy escapades that make this book vivid.
I found Between the Shadow and Lo to be hard to read in the same way that Leaving Las Vegas is hard to watch. I wanted her to just not get drunk again. And every time she described what it was like the morning after, I wanted to shake her sober. While there were moments of laugh-out-loud levity, the laughter was a mask for being uncomfortable. As much as I was uncomfortable, I couldn't stop reading. I couldn't put it down because I found myself rooting so hard for Leah. If Leah can find her hope, we all can.
Top reviews from other countries
The story consists for the most part of Leah recounting her various escapades, which entail taking drugs, frequenting bars, chasing men and inevitably ending up in a drink-laden stupor.
Between the Shadow and Lo is a first-person work of Transgressive Fiction written by a female author and boasting a female protagonist, both something of a rarity in what remains a male-dominated genre. The book’s squalid descriptions of Seattle’s underbelly appealed to this reader.
I have been affected by alcoholism. I fully understand the grip, the pain, the destruction and the major effect it has on anyone anywhere near it. I also fully understand the unrelenting, icy and dark grip addiction has on people. In Between the Shadow and Lo, that invisible little girl – the inner child, the ghost – is the frightened, dulled-down glow completely overshadowed by limelight-craving addict Lo. The hidden little girl has learnt she can be less visible and therefore safer by lurking in the shadows than out in the light, where she deserves to be if only she was brave enough to step out of it. But Lo needs her cover the same as that little girl, and here is the vicious circle.
I wanted to hold this little girl’s hand and reassure her it would be okay. I deeply felt her sadness, her loss, and her silence. I saw that she was living in a world she didn’t want to be but however bad it seemed, she was safe where she was as long as the shadow remained. As Lo is imprisoned by her addiction, the ghostchild is trapped in darkness.
This book is raw and open, yes. It is the prised open wound of someone damaged and displays Lo in all her torrid glory doing her worst, mostly to men, but in the writing itself there is an unexpected delicacy. I would have said the book is honest, and it is and it isn’t. The real truth, aside from the vividly depicted bad behaviour, remains in the unspoken.
How you can empathise for the non-existent yet can feel her presence in the storytelling is extraordinary. That feeling alone made me desperate to want to see resolution and yet this book gave you none. It told you everything, and also nothing. And I realise why I struggled to write my review for this book before now: because I was dissatisfied by the outcome. I was heartbroken it had no resolution, but I also saw the absolute skill and necessity for writing the tale this way.
This book tells Lo’s story, her delusion and the key to her addiction, because this is all about Lo. It is unrelenting in its cruelty because that is her and it can’t be told any other way. Be prepared to get inside the head of this character, and if you’re empathic, be prepared to feel you want to help her clear the cobwebs away, but don’t expect to be allowed to. And that is knowing what is it to live with, or be, an addict. The emotions felt in reading this will be all yours, not Lo's.
The premise of the story is a simple one at heart, which makes the realism even grittier and at times, difficult to read. Leah is young woman who moves to Seattle with a couple of friends to try and start a life there and see what’s what with the world and where it might take her. It comes across as a coming of age story but skilfully avoids any ‘life lesson’ clichés towards the latter end, focusing more on the spiral of self-loathing, her increasing dependency on alcohol and the promiscuous, self-destructive behaviour it inspires. All of which are acted out by a palpable feeling of unmanageable anger and troubling self-hatred. The people surrounding Leah become a reflection of herself, an amalgamation of hollow-faced, broken personalities who only increase her appetite for her downfall. I’ve believed for a long time that how you feel about yourself is often reflected by the people surrounding you. Between the Shadow and Lo embodies this thought and then cranks it up a notch by skipping unknown amounts of time to reveal the psychological effects of blackouts induced by alcoholism and also shining a light on the grimmer, physiological impacts of the vice. You’ll read very vivid descriptions on what alcohol can do the bowels, how it fills you with a heated want when you’ve gone without it for a while, and how it tucks you inside many a strangers’ beds without feeling the need to notify you until the morning after. I know this to be the case, as Leah was very much the female equivalent of myself during my early to mid-twenties.
As for the writing, Lauren Sapala is exceptionally skilled. Her usage of similes and metaphors are original, witty, charming, decadent, shatteringly honest and a lot of times profound and hilarious. Confessing it to be a memoir only ups the ante of her spiral toward a certain death, but there is a delicate intelligence to Leah which Lo seems unable to truly wipe out. She’s completely aware of her own behaviour and how its effecting her health and relationships, but also looks at it from a comedic and often poignant perspective. She may despise herself, but there is no judgment on her part. That’s what, for me, made the piece all the more charming and heart-wrenching. We’ve all met people like Leah (or even Lo) and most of us have been her as well. Lost under the ceaseless, grey clouds of Seattle, the spittle of rain forever draping itself over the city is blurred by the neon lights of dive-bars frequented throughout, where the lost and likely never to be found are always welcome.
One of my favourite chapters was when Leah woke up late again for her job at the bookstore, only to realise her car was situated somewhere underneath a bridge where all the meth heads and homeless folk congregate. Still drunk from the fumes of the previous night’s escapades, Leah jumps in a cab and tells him where to go, only to realise that she’s misplaced the car alarm deactivator on her way there. From there Leah and Lo blended together during this chapter, as her upfront language and anger at herself comes out in hilarious fashion as she bosses the cab driver around, who seems smitten with the self-confessed, drunken and salacious young woman. What comes across as innocuous reveals the bitter hilarity that ensues when addiction starts to get out of control. Another notable moment was when Leah tried to break-in to her own flat after misplacing her keys, only to find herself laying over a fence and a small window panel like a makeshift bridge, dressed in a full-bodied, latex suit no less. It served as a fitting metaphor for Leah; a young woman who from a distance looks confident and stable, but stumbles and falls whenever anyone gets too close to her.
Any fan of Bukowski will be delighted to have discovered this book. It has all the rawness, grit and passion one could hope for from any author, but with Sapala’s own genteel, unique signature sprinkled (and sometimes smeared) across the page. In a time where hope is injected into stories as some sort of tired old obligation rather than a necessity, Between the Shadow and Lo refreshingly sticks a middle finger up to it, wisely choosing instead to be its own, unforgiving insight into what many a westerner will experience when they find themselves face to face with the real world.
The references to the great Dostoevsky were an additional delight for any bookworms out there too.
A riveting, no nonsense insight into the reality of addiction, self-destruction and most importantly, what it means to be human inside an apathetic world. Top marks.
The plot, the style, the language, it's all special. What a great book!