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What to Read Next (No. 175): Mystery of the Month + The Addiction Inoculation
Happy Friday, everyone! With Memorial Day just around the corner, I’m thinking about my summer reads. For a lot of people that means something specific—for me, it’s as simple as finding something that I can jump in and out of for just 5-10 minutes at a time. A paperback that I can have in my hand while playing outside with the kids is perfect. If you haven’t yet, be sure to chime in on the discussion that I emailed out early in the week: What Books Are You Looking Forward to Reading This Summer?
Today, we’re looking at May’s Mystery of the Month, which I didn’t love, but did like enough to finish. Then I get into my favorite parenting author’s new book, which is a must-read for parents and educators.
And don’t forget to check out my delightful bookish interview with Katy Milkman, author of the new book How to Change.
P.S. Please let me know what you’re reading by emailing me back—I love to hear!
Mystery of the Month: Instinct by Jason Hough
Published: 2021 | Pages: 335
Officer Mary Whittaker is new to Silvertown, Washington. It’s a small town with just one other police officer, and he has to take off for a week to deal with an ailing mother. Mary is trying to get her bearings and prove she’s up to the task when some weird things start happening in town.
A hiker stands there and takes it while a bear mauls him—doesn’t fight back at all. An overprotective mother leaves her twin babies at home to show a stranger around town. A cautious waitress takes off with some partying teenagers into an old, out-of-use bunker.
It’s almost like people’s instincts are off. They’re doing things they would never normally do.
Is the culprit supernatural? Is it related to the new 5G cell tower outside of town? What about the abandoned military base? What about the mining company that was run out of town (along with the rich execs and investors)? Officer Whittaker explores all those threads before landing on something more sinister and far-reaching than she imagined.
When it comes to mysteries, the combination of a unique story and strong characters are what make for real knockouts. The plotline of Instinct isn’t totally unique, but definitely stands out, and the brooding PNW atmosphere always makes for a good setting. On the character side, Mary is sarcastic, witty, and eager to do good, but isn’t the most developed protagonist. The ancillary characters are fine, but somewhat flat.
As you can tell, I didn’t love Hough’s first foray into the mystery genre (he’s been a sci-fi guy thus far), but it was enjoyable enough to finish and kept me well-entertained for a handful of nights before bed. In more cases than not, that’s enough to call it a winner. Pick it up from the library if you need a quick read that won’t require too much effort.
Published: 2021 | Pages: 260
“The stories we tend to tell about the horrors of substance abuse highlight the filth and desperation of an addict’s final days but hardly ever detail the backstory, and it’s the backstory that can help us prevent the first drink or drug from happening altogether.”
I’m not generally into parenting books. I don’t know what it is, but it’s rare that they can hold my attention, let alone provide inspiration for a fresh mindset or strategy to implement.
Jess Lahey’s books are among the few exceptions that are not only helpful, but entertaining and fun to read, too.
The Gift of Failure is the best parenting book I’ve read, period. So when The Addiction Inoculation was published in April, I knew I had to get my hands on it ASAP. Even though the book is geared more towards parents/educators of teens, it was incredibly helpful to gain this sort of knowledge early, relatively speaking, in the parenting journey. (Our oldest is just about six.)
Lahey starts powerfully with her own story of alcohol addiction. For her, the problem wasn’t really visible to anyone else. She never suffered the disaster that so many people in her shoes do, there just came a day when she was able to admit that she was drinking way too much wine, every single night, and couldn’t stop without help.
From there, she moves into a wide-ranging and always interesting look at substance abuse. She covers the history of abuse (“Alcohol has alleviated our collective angst, incited revolutionary zeal, and sustained cultural change for millennia”), the biology of the adolescent brain, what various substances do to that adolescent brain, and how to inoculate your kids against not only peer pressure, but also the flood of teenage anxiety that overwhelms today’s youngsters and often drives them to alcohol and drugs. The key, according to Lahey, is to communicate openly and often, and to be just as focused on why someone first uses, instead of just worrying about worst case scenarios.
With witty and self-deprecating humor, digestible science, immense compassion, and unique ideas for getting teenagers to open up, The Addiction Inoculation gives readers a crash course on making sure that your household is as protected against the throes of substance abuse and addiction as is possible. As Lahey exhorts parents and educators, you already have the best tools in this fight: “transparency, honesty, and evidence-based information.” You just need the courage and humility to use them.
Required reading for anyone who looks after children, in any capacity.
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