4 out of 4 stars
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Sometimes I am wondering what happens to people in rehab. They seem to disappear, right? An addiction specialist told the author that the book could diminish people’s fear of rehabilitation. In my case, it did.
A Dress the Color of the Sky is a steamy, raw, eye-opening contemporary book about addiction and redemption. The story empowers women. Our main character is Prudence Aldrich, a sex addict who checks in at Serenity Hills, a rehabilitation center. She confronts her traumatic past, dealing with an abusive childhood and an alcoholic husband named Nick. She is also a rape survivor. She meets people who help her gain control over herself. Prue is also the mother of a boy of fourteen years old named Christian. The story is a memoir of the author, who was trapped in an abusive marriage like Prue’s. As the story progresses, we enter deep into Prue’s troubled past. We see how her parents split, how she was treated by the men in her life, and where her addiction comes from. While we are traveling in her childhood memories, we also see her in the present, at the clinic. These alternations between past and present are going to captivate you, making you turn the pages faster for the next short chapter. The painful details of the past point to Prue’s struggle of regaining control of her life.
Prue's development of character is the most valuable element of the book. Her progress is amazing. In spite of everything she went through, Prue stays good at heart. She knows she has to take care of her child, and she is desperate enough to give her body to strangers for money. Because of that, I compare her to Fantine from Les Miserables. If you liked it, you should also check out this book. Prue’s strength is admirable. I think her being a mother was the only reason she wasn’t completely lost. It is impossible to not feel something for her. You will see her reaching out for help throughout the book. I would’ve liked to know her in real life. Being in an abusive marriage, her husband Nick amplifies her negative feelings and her self-destructive behavior. The problem is that in every abusive relationship, the person abused can’t leave the abuser. She is convinced that she is to blame for everything that goes wrong in their marriage.
In the beginning, her progress means that she simply has to abstain from intimate relations with men. That’s why she wears a pink label for her category of addicts, and a neon-pink sticker with “Females Only” written on it. But when Alistair, a cocaine addict, comes along, things become a little bit complicated. Will she be able to resist him and continue her treatment, or her desires will simply be too powerful? Another thing that threatens her progress is when Family Week comes, and Prue has to confront the problems with her family.
At the clinic, Prue mostly attends group meetings and therapy. I liked a method used in the book. They had a wall poster with eight basic emotions written on it: Anger, Fear, Pain, Joy, Passion, Love, Shame, and Guilt. The patients needed to use the words to describe what they felt, and thus their progress was monitored. I feel like that might be a good thing to try myself at home. Although it appears simple, it was interestingly used in the book.
I wish other characters were developed more. I wanted to know more about some of them, like Prue’s brother. But I understand that the other characters are there to amplify Prue’s insecurities, or to offer support to her recovery. They have a clear purpose in the development of Prue’s character. For that reason, I won’t take any stars off. I appreciate that we saw people with other addictions and their meetings, for example, the AA meetings. Prue forms strong friendships with other addicts and doctors. I enjoyed the most her relationship with Christian, her son. She is a good mother to him, but he is just a child who can’t understand why his mother leaves him alone at night.
The beginning was slow for me. Unfortunately, the story didn’t grasp me at first. As it progressed, I got to see just how deep it went into psychology, and I started liking the serious subject. Eventually, the book remained stuck in my hands, and pages started flying. I enjoyed Prue’s little sarcastic thoughts. The writing was light and flows gracefully.
Prue involves herself sexually in a lot of dangerous relationships. The explicit scenes might make the reader uncomfortable, as they are more tragic than erotic. Those who don’t like disturbing stories should stay away because this book is going to have an impact on everyone. Not to mention, only adults should read it.
In the last pages, there is a series of questions about the book meant to be answered in a group discussion. I’ve never seen that before, and I find it helpful because it feels like chatting with the author. I recommend this book to fans of adult fiction, to people who enjoy strong female characters, to those passionate about psychology, and to everyone looking for a book about love, addiction, redemption, family, and friendship. It is professionally edited, but I managed to find a few grammar mistakes, for example, missing or added prepositions.
In conclusion, I enjoyed the development of the main protagonist, her relationship with the people who cared about her, the positive light in which the rehabilitation center is showed, and the list of questions the author asks at the end. I didn’t enjoy the under-developed second characters, but I understood their purpose. For the reasons listed above, I give A Dress the Color of the Sky 4 out of 4 stars.
A Dress the Color of the Sky
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