Double Double: A Dual Memoir of Alcoholism by Martha Grimes & Ken Grimes

GrimesDoubleDoubleWhy I Read It: I’ve known many alcoholics, lived with a few, and thought this mother-son memoir would be interesting.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: If you are looking for some fresh insights on alcoholism, this is a great book.

Narrators: Kate Reading & Holter Graham

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2013)

Length: 6 hours 21 minutes

Martha Grimes may be best known for her mystery books. She is also an alcoholic. Her son, Ken Grimes, grew up in a single parent home and toyed with drugs and alcohol from a young age, burning out in his 20s. In this memoir, both Martha and Ken share their impressions of alcoholism, how society treated it growing up, and their own personal battles and reasons for staying sober.

This book was so approachable. Much of it read like a conversation over tea and biscuits with Martha and Ken Grimes. Growing up in an alcoholic household, so many things in this book rang true for me. While this is a nonfiction, I have no problem saying that I connected with both of the authors. I especially appreciated each talking about how society’s treatment of alcoholics has changed over the decades. While both entered into treatment, each chose different paths. One is an atheist and one is not. One went with Alcoholics Anonymous and one with a private clinic. While one toyed with drugs, the other did not.

On a more poignant level, the authors talk about Ken growing up with an alcoholic parent and never being sure of when or how Martha’s mood would swing. Additionally, Martha talks of her summers working at the family hotel and alcoholic mood swings of the manager – friendly and funny to furious in zero seconds flat. Their discussions of the constant vigilance, if not out right battle, against falling back into the bottle showed how strong a person needs to be to kick any addiction. They also have a great discussion about whether or not alcoholism should be considered a medical disease. It is not a question I had pondered before this book and has given me something to chew on.

Narration: Kate Reading and Holter Graham were perfect choices for the voices of Martha Grimes and Ken Grimes. They provided a clear narration of what was at times a difficult subject. I especially liked the sections that were conversations back and forth between Martha and Ken.

What I Liked: Even the tough parts were told straight forward; different view points on alcoholism and treatment; the generational differences were portrayed and shed some light older alcoholics I have known.

What I Disliked: The book might have benefited a bit from further explanation of the different stages of alcoholism and recovery, but this is a very minor comment and I won’t be knocking the book down a notch or two for it.

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