A house on stilts Mothering in the age of opioid addiction - a memoir

Paula Becker

Book - 2019

"A House on Stilts tells the story of one woman's struggle to reclaim wholeness while mothering a son addicted to heroin. America's opioid crisis is a national emergency, a war at home. Within this battle, family members form the first line of defense. Their mission is hellishly risky: opioid overdose now kills more than 100 Americans each day, and that number is growing. Many who die are teens or young adults. In spite of this, no parent expects to be forced to confront their chi...ld's drug addiction. A House on Stilts' intensely personal account of trauma and survival is a heartbreakingly timely exploration of one family forced to grapple with America's #CrisisNextDoor. Paula Becker's son Hunter was raised in a safe nurturing home by his writer/historian mom and his physician father. He was a bright curious child. And yet, addiction found him. More than 2.5 million Americans are addicted to opioids, some half-million of these to heroin. For many of them--for Hunter--their drug addiction leads to lives of demoralization, homelessness, and constant peril. For parents--for Paula--a child's addiction upends family life, catapulting them onto a path no longer prescribed by Dr. Spock, but by Dante's Inferno. A House on Stilts recounts Hunter's headlong rush into drug addiction, its shattering impact on his family, and Paula's determination to shield Hunter's younger siblings from the maelstrom into which his addiction thrusts them all. Paula and her husband desperately fight to help their son, fearing for his life, grieving the loss of the boy they thought they knew. Within this ten-year crucible, Paula is transformed by an excruciating, inescapable truth: the difference between what she can do (love her son) and what she cannot do (save him)"--

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Subjects
Published
Iowa City : University of Iowa Press [2019]
Language
English
Physical Description
xi, 218 pages ; 23 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN
9781609386597
1609386590
Main Author
Paula Becker (author)
  • Ultrastrong
  • Didn't know anything
  • Chasing it
  • The squat
  • The accident
  • Totally fucked
  • Flying south
  • Waiting
  • Family week
  • A hundred needles
  • Thanksgiving
  • Harm reduction
  • Lights in the night
  • The visit
  • The climb
  • Jonah
  • The passport
  • Flying east
  • Market Street
  • Runaway bunny
  • Drugstore cowboy
  • Love is
  • Requiem.
Review by Booklist Reviews

This is a brutally honest narrative about opioid addiction. Becker, her husband, and their three children seemed to be thriving: writer mom, doctor dad, a comfortable suburban lifestyle, best parenting practices, homeschooling, loving relatives, a house full of books and music. Imagine their shock when their oldest son, Hunter, became addicted to drugs in the ninth grade. In a deeply introspective manner, Becker shares her bewilderment and grief, her and her husband's deep denial and readiness to make excuses, their anguished decision to ban their child from their home, and his unpredictable appearances in their backyard tree fort (the title's house on stilts). Readers will be caught up in Hunter's endless cycle of deepening addiction, homelessness, rehab, and relapse, resulting in his family's emotional and financial turmoil and eventual dazed exhaustion. Like too many, this account of opioid addiction ends in tragedy. This timely story puts a face on the statistics and brings the tragedy of opioid addiction into sharp and relatable relief. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

This is a brutally honest narrative about opioid addiction. Becker, her husband, and their three children seemed to be thriving: writer mom, doctor dad, a comfortable suburban lifestyle, best parenting practices, homeschooling, loving relatives, a house full of books and music. Imagine their shock when their oldest son, Hunter, became addicted to drugs in the ninth grade. In a deeply introspective manner, Becker shares her bewilderment and grief, her and her husband's deep denial and readiness to make excuses, their anguished decision to ban their child from their home, and his unpredictable appearances in their backyard tree fort (the title's house on stilts). Readers will be caught up in Hunter's endless cycle of deepening addiction, homelessness, rehab, and relapse, resulting in his family's emotional and financial turmoil and eventual dazed exhaustion. Like too many, this account of opioid addiction ends in tragedy. This timely story puts a face on the statistics and brings the tragedy of opioid addiction into sharp and relatable relief. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

This affecting memoir begins with Becker (Looking for Betty MacDonald) making lemon-black sesame seed muffins for her 18-year-old son Hunter, home from a three-month drug rehab that she and her family hope is his last stint. Since drug testing is a regular occurrence in Hunter's life, Becker replaces the poppy seeds with sesame seeds in his favorite breakfast treat. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Becker, Hunter is shooting up opiates in the basement. The Beckers (a physician and a researcher) devour Harry Potter novels, cook from scratch, homeschool, and try to be purposeful about every decision they make. Their world is turned upside down when Hunter's addiction heads into a downward spiral with a tragic ending. Both gut-wrenching and disturbing, this is a mother's chronicle of how addiction makes no distinctions. Which choice was at fault for her son's struggles, questions Becker, as she wrestles with difficult truths, such as recognizing that only the person battling the disease can truly do the work of healing. VERDICT With hundreds dying each day of opiate overdose and more than two million individuals addicted, this powerful and moving account shows the everyday ordinariness of the struggle of substance abuse and recovery. Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A House on Stilts tells the story of one woman's struggle to reclaim wholeness while mothering a son addicted to heroin. America's opioid crisis is a national emergency, a war at home. Within this battle, family members form the first line of defense. Their mission is hellishly risky: opioid overdose now kills more than 100 Americans each day, and that number is growing. Many who die are teens or young adults. In spite of this, no parent expects to be forced to confront their child's drug addiction. A House on Stilts' intensely personal account of trauma and survival is a heartbreakingly timely exploration of one family forced to grapple with America's #CrisisNextDoor. Paula Becker's son Hunter was raised in a safe nurturing home by his writer/historianmom and his physician father. He was a bright curious child. And yet, addiction found him. More than 2.5 million Americans are addicted to opioids, some half-million of these to heroin. For many of them--for Hunter--their drug addiction leads to lives ofdemoralization, homelessness, and constant peril. For parents--for Paula--a child's addiction upends family life, catapulting them onto a path no longer prescribed by Dr. Spock, but by Dante's Inferno. A House on Stilts recounts Hunter's headlong rush into drug addiction, its shattering impact on his family, and Paula's determination to shield Hunter's younger siblings from the maelstrom into which his addiction thrusts them all. Paula and her husband desperately fight to help their son, fearing for his life, grieving the loss of the boy they thought they knew. Within this ten-year crucible, Paula is transformed by an excruciating, inescapable truth: the difference between what she can do (love her son) and what she cannot do (save him)"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A House on Stilts tells the story of one woman&;s struggle to reclaim wholeness while mothering a son addicted to opioids. Paula Becker&;s son Hunter was raised in a safe, nurturing home by his writer/historian mom and his physician father. He was a bright, curious child. And yet, addiction found him. More than 2.5 million Americans are addicted to opioids, some half-million of these to heroin. For many of them, their drug addiction leads to lives of demoralization, homelessness, and constant peril. For parents, a child&;s addiction upends family life, catapulting them onto a path no longer prescribed by Dr. Spock, but by Dante&;s Inferno. Within this ten-year crucible, Paula is transformed by an excruciating, inescapable truth: the difference between what she can do and what she cannot do.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A House on Stilts tells the story of one woman&;s struggle to reclaim wholeness while mothering a son addicted to opioids.