Stories of salespeople going from rags to riches are a dime a dozen. And books chronicling abuse and recovery often seem overly congratulatory and hazily constructed, with the most harrowing parts excised.
After reading all of the ways that Robert Radcliffe managed to almost kill himself before the ripe old age of 22, however, I’d say 180 Degrees stands out as something a bit different. Radcliffe, or “Robert R.” as his nom de guerre reads, writes about being a dropout addict who became a dealer to support his habit. He shares some pretty shameful stories, giving readers a believable inner narrative to go along with them. He explains the thinking behind what must have seemed like the erratic behavior of a crazy person, without requesting pity or subjecting readers to self-flagellation.
The book is split into two parts, one chronicling addiction and the other recovery. The first half of the book is addictive if only in terms of shock value and sheer honesty. Radcliffe exposes some pretty awful things done by a kid who was once deathly afraid of doctors’ office needles and who swore he’d never do drugs. As Radcliffe admits his self-destructiveness stemmed partly from the fact that he “never believed [he] would make it to adulthood,” you find yourself wondering how he did. Continue reading »