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How can anyone survive a life of poverty, crime, drug and alcohol addiction, and physical abuse yet not grow into a bitter adult? Here is a memoir showing just that. For Johnson, now 38, life growing up with four siblings in an English village was far from idyllic. His mother was a religious nut; his father, an alcoholic who regularly beat his wife and kids, even shoving the author's head into the fireplace one time. To deal with these realities, Johnson turned to alcohol, then drugs like crack and heroin. There was rehab, falling off the wagon, homelessness, petty crimes to pay for drugs, jail time, and then more rehab. Johnson's memoir is brutal in its intensity and graphic, awful detail; only at the end (the year 2000) does he emerge addiction-free. An easy-to-recommend genre bridging the gap between readers of nonfiction and fiction, memoirs are extremely popular in public libraries, and this one is especially gripping. Johnson has come a long way since his early days: he now works as a special adviser to Prince Charles. Readers may be curious for more about his current life, so stay tuned.