3 out of 4 stars
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A Boy Who Mattered: Examining the Roots of Drug Addiction by Marshall Frank is a nonfiction book. The author shared the story of his oldest son, who became a drug addict. As a loving father, Marshall tried many different strategies to help his son. He carried out an in-depth investigation into the factors that influence young people to fall into or be attracted to drug use. He hoped his studies, and his mistakes, would serve to educate and illuminate others. Knowledge is the key to help others avoid the nightmare of a drug-addicted child.
The book had three sections. The first section described Bennett's life. His parents divorced when he was only a year old. Emotional turmoil and an unstable home life plagued Bennett's youth. His mother encouraged him to smoke marijuana when he was only twelve. He ran away from home numerous times. Bennett's father signed him up for SSI payments, (Supplemental Security Income.) Bennett received taxpayer dollars monthly for his entire adult life. This steady stream of income served, principally, to support his drug habit. Bennett fathered three children, but did not form close emotional ties with any of them.
The second section presented the author's investigation into studies done about the various factors that produce drug addicts. Studies show that an unhealthy home environment is the number one factor influencing the tendency to use drugs. Societal standards and governmental aid can do more harm than good. The author highlighted the damage done by the monthly SSI payments Bennett received and the influence of rap music on youth. Marshall cited numerous websites that offer help, advice, and resources for addicts and families of addicts.
The last section presented reflections written by Bennett's family members. His half-brother, three children, father, and the editor described how Bennett's drug addiction affected their life. We often delude ourselves into believing that our actions are insignificant and do not harm others. These heartbreaking letters will make you rethink this premise.
I enjoyed the photos that the author included in the story. Pictures help to personalize the story and connect readers to the main character. The book also featured many of Bennett's poems. The emotional and moving verses opened a window into Bennett's soul and revealed his inner struggle. The poetry, more than Marshall's description of his son's plight, helped me to connect to Bennett and comprehend his pain.
I enjoyed the historical notes at the beginning of each chapter. The author correlated national events with the gradual societal slide into our nation’s acceptance of the use of drugs. At one time, marijuana users were arrested and imprisoned. Now, numerous states have passed laws that allow for the sale and consumption of marijuana.
Some of Bennett’s poems from his book, "The Black Hole," were difficult to read. My heart cried when I read the lines he wrote about his mother. “Hey Mommy, keep your men, your wine and bags of grass; For I will always remember the days that I came last.” Bennett also kept a diary. One entry read: “Loneliness is a hunger. It’s knowing if you pick up the phone to call anyone you care about, just to hear a voice, they don’t answer because they know it’s you.” I also noticed more than ten misspelled words in the book.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. This book is not a father’s complaint about his drug-addicted son. It is a labor of love, for his boy and for others. Readers will comprehend his frustration of not knowing how to help his son escape the nightmare of drug addiction. Bennett's story will educate both young people and parents about the causes and the dangers of drug use. The author achieved his goal of telling his son's story and of providing educative resources for other families facing this same situation. I would happily give this book the full rating if the spelling errors were corrected. This book would be beneficial for anyone who knows a family member or a person struggling with addiction. I believe this book should be in our schools to educate young people about the dangers of drugs. Some readers, who have already watched a loved one get swallowed up by drug addiction, might find the narrative to be overwhelming in its honesty.
A Boy Who Mattered
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