Cost by Roxana Robinson is a heartbreaking novel about a family coping with heroin abuse. Julia is a divorced college professor and artist trying to make it through the summer at her house in Maine with her elderly parents. Her mother, Katharine, is struggling with early signs of Alzheimer’s while Edward, her father, is often judgmental and condescending. Julia’s relationship with her parents is very strained. She’s sick of her father’s criticism and her mother is usually too confused to carry on a conversation with. When her oldest son, Steven, comes to visit he brings with him the news that he thinks his younger brother is doing heroin. and her mother is usually too confused to carry on a conversation with. When her oldest son comes to visit he brings with him the news that he thinks his younger brother is doing heroin.
Suddenly the family needs to come together to deal with this revelation. Julia calls on her ex-husband Wendell to bring their son up to Maine so they can confront him as a family. She also asks her estranged sister to come help as the family stages an intervention with the help of a professional who runs a rehab facility.
The book is narrated in multiple POV’s and we get a glimpse into each family member’s mind which really helps weave the story together. Julia is concerned and struggling to come to terms with the impact of her son Jack’s addiction. She tries so hard to will the problem away, to make it into anything but what it is. Then when she comes to terms with it, she’s haunted by the fact that there is very little she herself can do to help her son. As a mother myself I could feel her torment. My children are still little and I still have an element of control. I can make them go to school, clean their room, eat their veggies and I can help them correct their mistakes. I hate to think of the day when I become a bystander in their lives, unable to help them or make them choose the right path.
Watching her mother struggle with the loss of her memory is heartbreaking and I felt for the brother’s conflict, scared for his brother but feeling guilty for betraying his secret. The worst though was the look into Jack’s mind as he copes with heroin addiction and withdrawal. You could see the effect of the drug through his inner monologue as he wonders in a fit of withdrawal why everyone doesn’t keep a rock in their glove compartment to smash windows with. The way he’s able to justify all his actions through the drug is frightening, his mind was definitely not a pleasant place to be.
Roxana Robinson does a beautiful job in detailing the downward spiral of addiction and the way it affects the entire family. Julia’s family, once strained and distant, actually find itself stronger through working together to save Jack. It’s a good read but if you have any experience with addiction, some parts may hit very close to home. Proceed with tissues.
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