Writing with precision, authority, and wit, the pseudonymous Bohunk—the pen name of a psychiatrist (and attorney) specializing in addiction—reveals his story of finding hope and abundance despite harrowing experiences with addiction, depression, anxiety, divorce, and even international kidnapping. Despite the heavy topics, sharp prose and a hopeful spirit distinguish this clear-eyed memoir, which recounts with hard-won insight the ongoing challenge of living a sober life, from his endless residency days working 90-plus hours a week, to parenting a pair of daughters, to the bizarre, exhausting fight to recover those girls after their mother abducts them and flees the country. (The retainer requested by the detective on the case: $125,000.)
Between those extremes, Bohunk, with disarming frankness, shares the everyday work it takes to manage addiction, in good times and bad, as well as complex issues of legacy and spirituality: The son of a Catholic mother and a secular Jewish father, Bohunk, in his youth, felt some shame at his Jewish heritage, and while in recovery found his own beliefs in conflict. The “higher power” component of Alcoholics Anonymous eventually nudged him to work to find a “God-consciousness” in his own way, a process that Bohunk describes with welcome humility–he never tells anyone how to live, instead offering his experience and self-discovery as an example.
Elsewhere, Bohunk’s Redemption is alive with spirited, persuasive opinions (“The Industrial-Medical complex overall kills more than it saves lives when it comes to addicting drugs they push on to the public”) and striking character sketches: He describes his father as “a typical New Yorker, worldly in the confines of a few square blocks.” The twelfth step of AA recovery, of course, emphasizes the joy of living, a phrase that could have served as this lively book’s title. Bohunk’s celebration of life as a parent proves as engaging as his suspenseful account of the abduction, and he laces insight about addiction throughout.
Takeaway: A psychiatrist’s memorable story of facing addiction, sobriety, and child abduction.
Great for fans of: Peter Grinspoon’s Free Refills, Leslie Jamison’s The Recovery.
Production grades Cover: B+ Design and typography: A Illustrations: N/A Editing: A- Marketing copy: A