Everything I Never Wanted To Be

( 28 )

Overview

Everything I Never Wanted to Be by Dina Kucera is the true story of a family's battle with alcoholism and drug addiction. Dina's grandfather and father were alcoholics. Her grandmother was a pill addict. Dina is an alcoholic and pill addict, and all three of her daughters struggle with alcohol and drug addiction – including her youngest daughter, who started using heroin at age fourteen.
Dina’s household also includes her husband and his unemployed identical twin, a mother who ...
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Everything I Never Wanted to Be

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Overview

Everything I Never Wanted to Be by Dina Kucera is the true story of a family's battle with alcoholism and drug addiction. Dina's grandfather and father were alcoholics. Her grandmother was a pill addict. Dina is an alcoholic and pill addict, and all three of her daughters struggle with alcohol and drug addiction – including her youngest daughter, who started using heroin at age fourteen.
Dina’s household also includes her husband and his unemployed identical twin, a mother who has Parkinson's Disease, a grandson who has cerebral palsy, and various other friends and family members who drift in and out of the household depending on their employment situation and rehab status. On top of all that, Dina is trying to make it as a stand-up comic and author so she can quit her crummy job as a grocery store clerk. Through it all, Dina does her best to hold her family together, keep her faith, and maintain her sense of humor.
The story opens with Dina on stage, competing on the “Funniest Mom in America” TV show. She’s performed hundreds of times, but this time she freezes because she’s flashing back to her teenage daughter’s harrowing hospital stay following a suicide attempt. From there, it’s a rollercoaster ride that includes stories of parental neglect, drug overdoses, a priest who masturbates while hearing confessions, a tragic childbirth, a teen who finds out via videotape that she was raped while she was high on crystal meth, a stay in a mental ward, a surprisingly redemptive trip to Disneyland, and more relapses and rehabs than you can keep track of. It’s a story that is brutally honest–shocking at times–yet still funny and full of hope.
In many ways, Everything I Never Wanted to Be is a cross between Mary Karr's The Liar's Club and James Frey's A Million Little Pieces, and as you might imagine, a story filled with alcoholics and drug addicts includes a number of horrific events. But in the end, Everything I Never Wanted to Be is an uplifting story that contains valuable lessons for parents and teens alike, and a strong message about the need to address the epidemic of teen drug addiction in our nation. It’s a book that can change behavior and save lives—and make you laugh along the way.
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What People Are Saying

Stein Stein
How come people who have experienced such trauma write so well? Everything I Never Wanted To Be is so raw and funny that it almost makes me want to have horrible things happen to me so my writing will improve. Until I can orchestrate that, I can enjoy reading about Dina Kucera's horrible life.
—Joel Stein, Time Magazine columnist, author of Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity
Jenny Mounfield
Malcolm in the Middle meets Cops. What makes this memoir so special? As with fiction, it's all about voice: the fairy dust that brings words to life, gives them a heartbeat. Dina has a voice many authors would cheerfully give a limb for. Everything I Never Wanted to Be will tie your heart in knots, it will have you howling in frustration and it will make you laugh out loud. I strongly urge everyone to read Dina's story.
—Jenny Mounfield (The Compulsive Reader Sept. 2010)
Charline Ratcliff
A brutally open and honest look into the heart of a family beset by drug and alcohol abuse. [Kucera's] heart, soul, and humor shine forth from the book's pages and…will make a lasting impression on those who read her memoir.
—Charline Ratcliff (Rebecca's Reads Oct. 20, 2010)
RehabAlert.com
This book will appeal to people who have suffered from a family member who is hooked on illegal drugs or to a drug-dependent person who has compassion for his family's hardships caused by his addiction. The book tells the story of the author who has been dealing with addiction along with her family members. This is an uplifting story that shows a brighter side is coming provided that an addict has the will to change.
—RehabAlert.com (Top 50 Drug Rehab Books)
Mark Shelmerdine
I started reading Everything I Never Wanted to Be and couldn't put it down. It is terrific! It is a very visceral description of the lives of the author and her family, full of side-busting humor and moments of incredible drama and emotion. I don't think there is anything like it in this genre. It deserves the attention of reviewers and the media, and I can see it becoming a hilarious movie in the vein of 'The Hangover' or the original 'Death at a Funeral.
—Mark Shelmerdine (CEO Jeffers Press)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780982579435
  • Publisher: Dream of Things
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Pages: 218
  • Sales rank: 465,242
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Dina Kucera was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After completing a project to collect and identify fifty insects, she graduated from the ninth grade and left school for good. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Her first job was a paper route, and she has worked as a maid, bartender, waitress, and grocery store checker. She recently left her job as a checker to become a writer.

She has also been a stand-up comic for twenty years, for which she receives payment ranging from a small amount of money to a very, very small amount of money. When it comes to awards and recognition, she was once nominated for a Girl Scout sugar cookie award, but she never actually received the award because her father decided to stop at a bar instead of going to the award ceremony. Dina waited on the curb outside the bar, repeatedly saying to panhandlers, "Sorry. I don't have any money. I'm seven." Dina is married with three daughters, one stepson, and one grandson. She currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 29, 2011

    Amazing Story ~ Extraordinarily Written

    Your book (your story) and your attitude are amazing. I could not put the book down. Riveting, heart breaking and funny all in one. Thank you, Dina! You are an extraordinary writer.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    What an exceptional book! This is a bravely told story about mul

    What an exceptional book! This is a bravely told story about multigenerational addictions. Somehow the author manages to find humor in life as well to keep the story moving. A well done book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2010

    Insightful, raw, funny, fast paced, and enlightening--a must-read!

    Everything I Never Wanted To Be is brave and powerful, educational without being preachy. Dina Kucera's insight and wit are sharp, her story raw and real. Her honesty and humor reminds me of Anne Lamott's writing, but Kucera definitely has her own voice-a voice that cries out to have her pain and challenges heard, yet one that also demonstrates her huge capacity for faith, gratitude, and love of life. Hers is a fresh new voice I feel fortunate to have "heard" and one which will enlighten many to the reality of a family struggling with addiction. The shocking thing is that her book had so many rejections before it landed on Mike O'Mary's desk. I'm glad Mike had the good judgment to take on Dina Kucera's book. What a gem!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2010

    "An intense and exhausting journey, but well worth the effort." -- Gary Klinga, ForeWord Reviews

    "An intense and exhausting journey, but well worth the effort." -- Gary Klinga, ForeWord Reviews

    Like a maelstrom, Everything I Never Wanted to Be pulls the reader into the powerful whirlpool which threatens to suck the lives of a family down the vortex of drug addiction and alcoholism. This is not a story of a caring family member or friend rescuing a loved one from drug abuse. Rather, this is a unique tale of an addict trying to save addicts: Kucera fights desperately to save her three teenage daughters from meth and heroin addiction while battling her own overpowering dependence on alcohol and painkillers. Naturally, the events that unfold are chaotic. This is the author's true story of a tumultuous but inspiring, against-all-odds journey to keep herself and her family afloat.

    Stuck in a low-paying, thankless job as a grocery store clerk, Kucera is bent on making it as a stand- up comic. Any chance of assuming a normal life, however, seems out of reach. Her daughter, Carly, has gone in and out of drug treatment facilities-landing in intensive care more than once-since she was thirteen. The other daughters lapse in and out of recovery from alcoholism and heroin addiction. But the author never whines about her lot in life. She admits her life is what she made it.

    It becomes clear that Kucera's amazing ability to laugh at life while in the throes of adversity is what, in fact, keeps her from sinking into utter despair. Her retort for childless people who try to advise her: "Having a dog or a cat or a yak is nothing like having a child. You will never have to pay for drug rehab for your yak."
    Her humor is matched by her determination. At one point she has a major breakdown and checks herself into a psychiatric ward. But days later she is back home with a renewed sense of purpose: to save her children. Whatever her personal failures-lack of money, clothes, career-Kucera is determined not to fail her children. She has learned a bitter lesson: the drug addict that other people see in her child is not the same person she knows. A persistent and poignant longing for the people her children once were threads throughout the book.

    Kucera has harsh words about the general lack of access to treatment centers, and she offers stern advice to those seeking help: "Fight, scream, cry, do whatever you ha ve to do to get help for your children." She never gives up hope that her children will change. This read could be overwhelming were it not for the humor and hope running throughout the story. It is an intense and exhausting journey, but well worth the effort.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Better Than Eat Pray Love

    In this day of whiny chick lit, this book is a breath of fresh air.
    You would think a story laced with so much heartache, and on a serious subject matter would be a total downer, but Everything I Never Wanted To Be is the exact opposite.
    It is uplifting, funny, a tear jerker, and suspense filled. It reads like a novel and would make a wonderful movie. It also shows a true lesson is accepting and appreciating what life throws at you.
    I am also impressed that the author is such an excellent writer with only a ninth grade education under her belt. Her intelligence and craft as a wordsmith is admirable.
    Don't miss out on this book because Oprah or Ellen haven't discovered it yet. You be the one to discover it, read it, pass it along, and tell all the people you care about to read it too.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Bridget's Review

    Everything I Never Wanted to Be is an emotionally charged, heartfelt work of art that will change your life forever. Dina deserves a round of applause for her courage and willingness to share her story and help others. I would highly, highly recommend this book to any reader.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2010

    A must read! A story of hope that will have you laughing and crying at the same time.

    I love this book! It is an easy read and I seriously couldn't put it down it had me so sucked in. I would be crying one minute and then be laughing the next. What a great Author to use such fantastic humor and intertwine it with such a serious subject.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    A great read.

    This book, this author, nails it. An easy read and a sense of humor very much needed to make it down the road of her life, and is much like others with the same struggles.
    I will be looking for more books written by Dina, I hope the success of this book brings her to her Devine Order.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

    EXCELLENT!

    The author didn't even finished high school but you'd never know it. This book is a true gem and I read it almost straight through without stopping! I'll be reading it again, and soon, it's that good. The subjects, addictions and family, are tough ones and there was a lot of honest and difficult sharing on these but there were also times that I found myself laughing out loud ;) Dina Kucera has a very good sense of humor and you "get it" when she's writing, she writes things most of us think but would never admit. I hope with all my heart that she writes more! To all those publishers who rejected her manuscript initially--you missed out and BIG. This is a book of hope and real life. I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2012

    Dina Kucera’s memoir Everything I Never Wanted To Be grab


    Dina Kucera’s memoir Everything I Never Wanted To Be grabbed me from page one and never let go until the last word. Dina’s voice is so powerful, clear, and natural that I felt she was talking directly to me in my living room – the same feeling I had while reading Keith Richards’ Life and Patty Smith’s Just Kids.

    Her story of her own alcoholism, her daughters’ alcoholism and addiction made me cry, wince, laugh, shake my head in disbelief – the emotions just kept coming as I read.

    And although we come from very different backgrounds – she grew up in a trailer park, left school after ninth grade, worked for years as a grocery store checker – we both ended up writing memoirs about how the bad things in our lives inspired us to live better lives day by day. Dina now works as a stand-up comic, proving the truth of Norman Cousins’ theory of the healing power of laughter.

    I also relate to her description of her daughter Carly’s heroin addiction, about how it changed her, how it made her a different person piece by piece. I found that bipolar disorder did the same thing to my son, Paul, until I didn’t know him anymore, that he was a different person from the one I raised, and that I wasn’t sure I even loved him anymore.

    But, as we both discovered, that love never goes away. It’s what keeps us going. Dina shows how all the pain in her heart made her heart stronger and more open to anything coming her way.

    Everything I Never Wanted To Be is a must-read for parents and teenagers. It is a life-changing experience, and it will inspire you never to give up.

    (Madeline Sharples, author of Leaving the Hall Light On)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2012

    GREAT READ!

    Quick and easy to read. Truly enjoyable!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2011

    Great book

    Dina is a very string woman and i wish her family the best. I loved this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2011

    Good book

    I found this book to be very enjoyable to read. It is amazing what this family has been through. I thought Dina Kucera did a really great job of writing it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2010

    A Rave Review from The Compulsive Reader

    Review by Jenny Mounfield

    When this book came up for review my first thought was: Oh yes, another family dealing with addiction. Been there, done that. But as I had nothing better to do, I went along...and read an excerpt. I was hooked.

    So what makes this memoir so special? As with fiction, it's all about voice: the fairy dust that brings words to life, gives them a heartbeat. Dina has a voice many authors would cheerfully give a limb for, and what's truly amazing is I don't think she has any idea she possesses such a gift.

    Recovering alcoholic and pill popper, Dina lives in Phoenix with husband John (also a recovering addict--who has a life-threatening heart condition thrown in for good measure), an infirm mother who sees things that aren't there, and at various times one or more of her three grown daughters, all of whom have addictions and various other issues. Add to this her less than glorious job at the local supermarket and what you get is a family dynamic that falls somewhere between, Malcolm in the Middle and Cops.

    `My customer counts out ninety-six cents in change. "Can I get rid of this?" Of course you can. The express lane is the perfect place to unload your enormous pile of change.'

    Without a doubt, the Kucera family is a family in crisis. Sadly, the crisis--or rather, crises--aren't anything unusual by today's standards; after all, the world is filled with dysfunctional families. What is unusual is how this family's matriarch has not only come to live with crisis, but bulldoze through it when so many others would have dropped the can and bolted years ago. The reason I single Dina out is that I believe this family would cease to exist without her at its head keeping it together on a daily basis.

    One of six children--five of whom became addicted to something that wasn't good for them--Dina had a bohemian childhood living in a commune of sorts in Albuquerque New Mexico. As a child she was plagued with anxiety and a host of irrational fears even though there was plenty of genuine danger dogging her life. Her schooling ended with ninth grade and from there it was pretty much all downhill.

    `When I was about nine, my siblings and I fell out of a moving van at an intersection. My dad didn't notice for about five blocks.'

    But don't think for one minute this is a tale to inspire pity. Far from it. Neither does Dina come across as a victim. She tells her story with matter of factness and humour, imparting wisdom and insights along the way. This wisdom has come at a huge price and she doesn't underestimate its value. Her story, this getting of wisdom, is about what it means to be human, and what it means to survive despite the odds.

    By far the most difficult passages to read in Dina's story are those concerning her youngest daughter, Carly's battle with drugs. The title of this book comes from a poem written by Carly at age sixteen: `I have decided that when I get caught doing something by the police I will kill myself right away./I have destroyed my family./I have become everything I never wanted to be.'

    Everything I Never Wanted to Be will tie your heart in knots, it will have you howling in frustration and it will make you laugh out loud. This story is for everyone, not just for those plagued by addiction. I strongly urge everyone to read Dina's story. For parents in particular, this should be compulsory reading. This book has the power to change lives.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2014

    So poorly written & dull, please don't waste your $!

    So poorly written & dull, please don't waste your $!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2014

    If you have ever had an addiction

    I highly recommend this book if you have ever had an addiction or have a friend or family member that has an addiction. I appreciated that fact that Dina Kucera had to use some comedy in her writing, to be able to tell the story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2014

    A true look into living and loving with addictions

    I hope the author's family can continue to find peace and humor. This is a bravely honest foray into life with addiction, helping those who also face these issues to not feel so alone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2013

    Touching

    Anyone whose life has been affected by addiction will touched. Excellent. Thank you for being brave enough to write it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2013

    DON'T BUY

    This book is all over the place. Dont waste your time or money.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews

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