4 out of 4 stars
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Warren’s Finest, by Danny Range, is a memoir on a mission. This autobiographical novel starts out with a nineteen year-old Danny in the midst of an epic binge consisting of cocaine, Xanax, beer, marijuana, and whatever other substance he managed to get his hands on that night. On the verge on an overdose, the narration switches to a forward from present-day Danny Range assuring us that he did not die that night. The novel then restarts three years prior with a self-conscious adolescent who is late for school and desperately trying to fit in every chance he gets. The reader doesn’t exactly get eased into Danny’s life as his eccentric, but loving, family and rough background are made clearly evident from the get-go.
The novel then segues into humorous accounts of your standard (or not so standard, depending on what kind of student you were in high school) student hijinks as the routine torture of a meek teacher and youthful drunken escapades are detailed. Danny’s anxious desire to fit in with the students at his elite Christian high school compels him to pull off the party to end all parties right under his mother’s nose. Danny Legend is born during that night of complete mayhem and debauchery, leading him down the regrettable path of progressively harder drugs and poorer decisions. You ride along with him as he battles his personal demons and lets you fully understand how an addict rationalizes their actions.
From the outset, it is made clear that this book is a cautionary tale for those with a proclivity for substance abuse and for the people in their lives. Range’s writing style puts you directly in the mindset of someone who is snorting ecstasy, doing coke of a woman’s behind mid-coitus, and having a panic attack in the middle of tripping on mushrooms. As an author, he is extremely engaging and laugh out loud entertaining if you are not the type who is easily offended by depictions of gnarly situations. Range is a very intelligent writer because he knows that his personal story needs to grab the reader so they get to the part where it becomes a tale of redemption. Conversations are very fluid, believable, and full of drug slang. If you have no familiarity with drug culture or its jargon, Range does an amazing job of explaining terms, the intricacies of ingesting different substances, and the relationship between dealers and fellow users.
The only aspect of this book that I did not like was the continuous use of multiple fonts, bolding of words, and capitalization used for emphasis. That formatting choice is the only thing that would let a reader know that this book didn’t come from a major publishing house. If tasked to be extra critical, I would suggest that some of the marathon-length paragraphs be pared down and asides to the reader be handled differently in the body of the text. At some points, it almost sounds like Range is trying to sell you something to achieve the same salvation that he did; alas, it is just his exuberance showing through.
The drug use is heavy, the language is profane, and the point of view is invaluable for anyone who is looking to understand what an addict is struggling with as they habitually abuse their bodies and minds. This is not a book for the shrinking violet or the easily offended. This is a book for anyone who is struggling with addiction, in recovery, or who cares about someone in the grips of drug addiction. I give Warren’s Finest 4 out of 4 stars. Everyone has something to learn by reading this book.
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