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Born different, a boy struggles. His story draws you in. So, too, does his mother's unending fight, the fight for an appropriate education and effective health care through to the fight for his life as he enters the harrowing world of addiction. Facing bitter disappointments and often insurmountable obstacles, while grappling with their own missteps, mother and son manage to cope with adversity, each in their own way and sometimes in opposition. Equally obvious is the bond between them, evidenced by their candid communication—laden with strife but not without humor.

A mother’s passion for her son’s equal rights, and her unshakable belief in his potential, seep through, as does her coming to terms with her own flaws. The boy's poetry—undiscovered in his lifetime—is intertwined, depicting the inner life of a person underestimated and, in many ways, unknown. The adolescent boy’s longing for affirmation and his deep-seated feelings of inadequacy dovetail with failed systems—school, health care, legal—to create the perfect storm. 

From the discovery of a drug that provided relief to the pure hell of addiction—exploited, humiliated, punished—and from homelessness and jail cells, to rehab and a wanderlust fueled by the relentless quest to belong, his young manhood is full of heartache. Yet his grit and resilience—his capacity to love and forgive—present a formidable counterforce to the wounds of injustice. But they lose. She, her son. He, his life.

The audiobook recounts the journey of an individual, but packs a message that is universal: human rights, a principle too easily negated for the vulnerable. Inspiring sensitivity for those who are different, compassion for those whose battles arise from uncontrollable circumstances rather than faults of character, this gripping story elucidates the source of addiction and drives home the urgent need for drug policy reform.

©2020, 2021 Apprentice House Press, Loyola University (P)2022 Jessie Dunleavy

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