Kat’s Pick: American Junkie

by Kat S.

Tom Hansen’s book, American Junkie (2010) is a brutally honest look at the author’s journey to, and through, heroin addiction. This is no easy read; the story is sordid, graphic and unrepentant. Written in the post-James Frey (A Million Little Pieces, 2003) era, Hansen has included medical documents to support his story and reveal the devastating effects his drug abuse had on his body.  American Junkie has just enough rock-n-roll rebellion, candid introspection, and explicit detail to keep it from glamorizing drug use or becoming a pity party.

The story jumps seamlessly between Hansen’s hospital room, his childhood, and throughout his years of abuse and addiction. The use of flashbacks and foreshadowing are masterful, carrying the story along while never interrupting the narrative flow—that alone is enough to earn my recommendation. If you love the memoir genre, or are contemplating writing one of your own, American Junkie provides a template for the balance between emotional vulnerability, unapologetic honesty, and evidence based narrative.

Hansen, Tom. American Junkie. New York: Emergency Press, 2010.


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