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In My Skin: A Memoir of Addiction

In My Skin: A Memoir of Addiction

3.3 4
by Kate Holden

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This is the frank, harrowing, and true story of one young woman’s descent into addiction and prostitution, and the long arduous struggle to reclaim her life. A shy, bookish college graduate, a nice girl from a solid middle-class home but uncertain of her way in life, Kate Holden tried her first hit of heroin as a one-time experiment—an adventure with


This is the frank, harrowing, and true story of one young woman’s descent into addiction and prostitution, and the long arduous struggle to reclaim her life. A shy, bookish college graduate, a nice girl from a solid middle-class home but uncertain of her way in life, Kate Holden tried her first hit of heroin as a one-time experiment—an adventure with friends—but the drug took over. Hooked, she lost her job and her apartment, and she stole from her family.   

Desperation drove her onto the streets, where she became “Lucy,” offering her body for cash to the first car to stop, risking arrest and, worse, the human predators—anything for her next fix. With her name on the police blotter, she eventually left the streets and offered her services to a high-class brothel. There she discovered hidden strengths, as well as parts of herself that frightened her.   

Throughout, however hurt and dismayed, her family never abandoned her, and their acceptance and unyielding love helped her defeat the drug and leave her netherworld behind. In taut, devastating prose, Kate Holden recounts her journey with an emotional honesty and genuineness that will leave no reader untouched.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
What happens when a bright, well-loved young woman gets hooked on heroin and turns to prostitution to keep up her habit? Hopefully, she eventually shakes free, as Australian Holden does, but most likely a lot goes wrong first. In this vivid and riveting account of her own sudden fall and slow recovery, Holden describes the slow pull toward heroin as her friends and her lover are hooked. Mild, almost bored temptation turns into obsession after she gives it a try. As the drug and the life compromises it encourages take over Holden's universe, she loses her job and rarely sees her family and clean friends. Eventually, desperate for cash for the daily fixes for herself and her inept boyfriend, she starts turning tricks on the street. When, one night, a john turns out to be a scout for temps at a brothel, Holden's story turns. The relative stability of the brothel, and the accompanying relationships with sister prostitutes and even some johns, revives Holden's sense of self and self-worth. Throughout, she tells it like it is. Her depictions of the dark realities she lived through are at times graphic, especially in some of the more difficult scenes with johns, but always clear-eyed. She lets the readers see and judge the situation for themselves. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The elevated, poetic language of Aussie writer Holden's debut memoir vibrates with passion as she tells the story of the small victories and great obstacles she encountered as a heroin addict who turned to prostitution as a way of supporting her habit. The middle-class Holden, a carefree, artistic bohemian who scraped by selling books, is introduced to the drug in her early twenties by her boyfriend in the small Australian town of St. Kilda at a time when the grunge band Nirvana reigned and heroin was at the peak of its glamour. Holden finds the strength to recover through the help of her supportive family and, ironically, through her struggle with the very hardships she finally escapes. Her acutely vivid prose is a revelation, even if the subject matter is not. Recommended for all public libraries. [Holden's draft manuscript of this book won the Judy Duffy Award for literary excellence. Ed.] Elizabeth Brinkley, Granite Falls, WA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A startling debut memoir about sex, work and smack. A bookish, piano-playing homebody, Holden grew up middle-class in Melbourne, Australia. At college, her heart was broken, and she discovered alcohol. She began reading (and dressing like) Ana‹s Nin. She lived in a trendy neighborhood, partied all the time and eventually tried heroin. Soon, her life narrowed to three activities: getting money for smack, scoring and shooting up. To finance her addiction, she stole money from the bookstore where she'd worked for years; after getting sacked, she began turning tricks, first on the street and then in a series of high-class brothels, which are legal in Australia. After only a few months, Holden grew accustomed to using a pseudonym and having sex with eight men a night. The work was degrading, but it had some glamorous aspects, ranging from velvet dresses to the sensation of being "beautiful and desirable." She felt genuine affection for some of her clients, though she had the sense (most of the time) not to see them outside the brothel. Eventually, thanks to her mother and to methadone, she got clean and left the sex trade. Holden's prose is subtle and elegant. She has a knack for unusual, revealing phrases, like "baffled by weariness" or "the organized hauteur of the true professional." If memoirists must make a choice between simply recreating the past and editorializing about it, this writer chooses the former. Her descriptions of the brothels are vivid, but there is something disconcerting about her almost total refusal to interpret her years as a prostitute. Early on, she acknowledges the debate about whether sex work exploits or empowers women, bur she never weighs in explicitly on eitherside. Too bad, since an analysis based on firsthand experience would be worth any number of distanced women's-studies treatises. Beautiful and discomfiting: The words sing, but the singer never reveals her innermost thoughts. Agent: Christian Dittus/Paul & Peter Fritz Literary Agency
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
chilling memoir of addiction that needs no embellishment.”
“It’s a terrifying and compelling story . . . and gives you a tantalizing peek into a world we all hope never to experience.”
Columbus Dispatch
“Tougher and truer [than the usual addiction memoir] . . . Her stubborn allegiance to the truth of her experience and her refusal to accept conventional opinions about drugs and prostitution make In My
San Francisco Chronicle
. . . Holden has an ear for rhythm and language. . . . Lyrical. ”

Product Details

Arcade Publishing
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502 KB

Meet the Author

Kate Holden was born in 1972 and graduated from the University of Melbourne with an honors degree in classics and literature.

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In My Skin: A Memoir of Addiction 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Slow book and mostly about her prostitution and the sex that goes with it....not very graphic either hopefully my next book will be most gritty and fast pased
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AvidreaderNV More than 1 year ago
This book was interesting and well written, but not what I was expecting. It should have been called A Memoir of Prostitution, not A Memoir of Addiction. Also, as revealing as the author is, she really just skims the surface. I get the feeling that Ms. Holden is proud to have been a prostitute and a heroin addict. She's willing to talk about those two things, but not the deeper aspects of the life she lead. I wonder if she has never acknowledged her feeling about the life she lived or if she just isn't sharing them with her readers. When I read a memoir, I always feel ripped off and unsatisfied when the author holds back. If you're going to write a memoir and expect people to pay for it, you should be prepared to talk about everything, not just the things you're proud of. Also, I didn't see her grow as a person. It seems like she just quit the drugs and prostitution because it didn't do it for her anymore. She doesn't seem to feel much remorse for how her behavior affected others. Maybe she just didn't want to talk about it. But she just comes across as self-centered and shallow.