Saturday 6 September 2014

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

Allison Weiss is a typical working mother, trying to balance a business, ageing parents, a demanding daughter and a marriage. 
But when the website she develops becomes a huge success, she finds herself challenged to the point of being completely overwhelmed. 
As she struggles to hold her life together and meet the needs of all the people around her, Allison finds that the painkillers she was prescribed for a back injury help her deal with more than just physical discomfort - they make her feel calm and get her through the increasingly hectic days. 
Sure, she worries that the bottles seem to empty a bit faster each week, but it's not like she's some Hollywood starlet partying all night. 
It's not as if she has an actual problem. Until she ends up in a world she never thought she'd experience outside of a movie theatre: rehab. And as Allison struggles to get her life back on track, she learns a few life lessons along the way.

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 28 August 2014.

An addiction to prescription painkillers seems to be the 'thing' at the moment. We read of celebrities and film starts entering rehab - not for illegal drug addictions, or alcoholism, but because they have developed an addiction to prescription drugs. I've always found it quite difficult to understand, not really knowing how anyone can get through their day after taking a handful of analgesics - just one codeine tablet is enough to put me on my back for hours!

Jennifer Weiner's All Fall Down is an expertly written study in how an ordinary, busy working mother can find herself totally paralysed by the pull of the painkiller. The lead character, Allison is not a celebrity, or a down and out, or a manic depressive. She's not even in a tremendous amount of pain. She's an intelligent woman who discovers that the little round tablets can help her to get through her day.

Allison is a well-known blogger, she writes for a popular website and her articles are respected, retweeted and commented upon. Her husband Dave is also a journalist, but his job and his salary have downsized recently, and now Allison is the main bread-winner of the family.  Their small daughter is a demanding child, and although Dave is a loving father, he leaves the day-to-day care to Allison. Coupled with her elderly father's Alzheimer's diagnosis, and her mothers apparent inability to cope with it, Allison has a lot on her plate.

Allison's downward spiral is so painful to read. Jennifer Weiner has clearly researched her subject very well; the lies told to the Doctor, the discovery of hidden online suppliers. All Fall Down reveals the depths that an ordinary, educated woman can stoop to, just to make sure that she gets her next fix. We often think of drug addicts as dirty, homeless, uneducated people - those who are depicted on film and TV, and in the media as beyond our sympathy, and so not like us.  All Fall Down will make the reader think twice about this stereotyping, and realise that dependency and ultimately, addiction can happen to anyone.

All Fall Down is at times a difficult and quite emotional read. Allison makes some decisions that are breathtaking in their stupidity, she also makes some discoveries about herself and her closest family members.  Well written and well researched, All Fall Down is warm, at times very witty and  thought provoking.

My thanks to Hayley from Simon & Schuster who sent my copy for review.

Jennifer Weiner is the international number one bestselling author of eight novels, including Best Friends Forever, Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, which was made into a major film starring Toni Colette and Cameron Diaz, Certain Girls and Fly Away Home. 

Visit Jennifer at
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Follow her on Twitter @jenniferweiner

1 comment:

  1. An excellent review and although this sounds like it might be a difficult read, I think it might be a worthwhile one. This has gone on my Wish List.
    Margaret P