Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget
By Sarah Hepola
Grand Central Press, 2015
The title sums up the book: Hepola excavates her childhood and young adult years to understand, and come to terms with, why she became a chronic binge drinker who regularly blacked out. The book begins when she is living in NYC, working as a freelance writer, and goes on a trip to Paris where she has a memorable night that she only half recalls. She then flashes back to her childhood and recounts her life growing up in Dallas, going to college in Austin, and her move to New York. She eventually gives up drinking while in New York where she worked as an editor at Salon.com.
Hepola is a gifted writer. She is funny and insightful and does a great job unearthing in print feelings she was not able to discuss when she was a young woman. She writes openly about the pain of growing up: of boys who snapped bras in fifth grade, of being told she was too fat in middle school and of feeling she was never good enough after college. Her story is that of a young single woman who seems to be taking care of herself, holding down a good job, paying her bills, changing her own light bulbs, and yet who gained fifty pounds and alienated many friends after too much binge drinking and too many blackouts. There is no one reason why Hepola drank as much as she did, but eventually she couldn’t live with her habits and found a way to sober up. This is a moving story of a young woman coming to terms with her limitations and finding a new way to live her life. It is at times a sad story, but for anyone interested in addiction or how people turn their lives around this is a good read. I found it as engaging as I found The Tender Bar, for those of you who have read that book.
Hepola lives in Dallas and still works with Salon.com.