- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: WaterBrook; 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: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,153,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Crystal Lies Paperback – October 19, 2004
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*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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Top customer reviews
Are you a fan of happy books that sugar coat life and make you feel warm and cozy inside? Well then you will be in for a shock after reading this book. I'm not an expert on crystal meth so I learned a lot from reading this book. Reading about how the family got torn apart because of the drug addiction was very difficult. Everyone turns against each other, the family didn't have a good sense of unity. Since I've read many Melody Carlson books, I was prepared for a gritty, realistic story that would not hide back any details. Well reading this book was like a punch in the gut. The scene where Glennis finds the stash of needles under Jacob's bed and he keeps lying to her about them was very emotional. You really could feel her character wanting to break down at that point. Now there were times during the book where I wanted to yell at Glennis because she kept ignoring the signs of her son's addiction. Of course I know as a parent, there are times where you turn a blind eye because you want to see the best in your kids. It just made the story sadder because things could have been prevented if people had just noticed earlier. I think the best thing about this book is how realistic it is. There is a note in the beginning of the book where the author writes about how she knows what it's like first hand to be the mother of an addict. I believe this book should be read by everybody. It's a heart wrenching tale but the events mentioned take place every day. It's a sobering (no pun intended) read will really shake you up. VERY HIGHLY recommended.
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. Carlson's treatment of those themes and others sets her apart from many of her peers; with each of her recent books, she further reinforces her fearlessness in handling difficult issues in a realistic and often gritty way not generally seen in Christian fiction.
The spiritual element is very much a part of the story, and it is blessedly well integrated into the dialogue and story line. Carlson provides spiritual content without ever preaching or inserting sermonettes into her characters' conversations. And unlike the typical, fictional Christian family, the Harmons sound like a real family: Jacob quit youth group in middle school; Glennis gets mad at God, sneaks a cigarette outside church (just once, but still...), and realizes that the Christian life is not all her church tried to make her believe it would be; various family members use words like "suck" and "freaking" and no one freaks out; and a remorseful Geoff makes a decision about their future that is utterly unpredictable.
Every aspect of this story rings true. Anyone who has been involved to any extent with an addict will recognize the all-too-familiar behaviors, which Carlson so capably describes: "It seemed to happen every time Jacob had gotten involved in drugs. It was as if he suddenly became the expert at throwing confusion everywhere. He could put up a smoke screen and get people on the defensive before they even know what had hit them." Sound familiar? If so, you'll appreciate Carlson's insights into a world you already know; if not, you'll get an education in the way that world works.
CRYSTAL LIES is clearly one of the best works of Christian fiction to release so far this year, in any genre. It's the kind of book you can actually share with your non-Christian friends without cringing --- and the kind you can read with the same result.