Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Local Author Nick Rogen Impresses Me
This weekend I stopped by a local BORDERS store with Dr. Mary Jo Robinson while she picked out a DVD. When I walked in the door a handsome young man was sitting at a table with a small stack of his book, A Life Worth Living. Always eager to meet other writers, I stopped to say hello and read the back cover. Intrigued, I asked if the book is autobiographical; he said, "Yes, it is."
I leafed through a few pages, read a few lines, and decided to buy a copy. I asked Nick to sign it to me , which he did. We visited for another five minutes or so and then I re-joined Mary Jo on her quest for a DVD.
When I sat down for the evening, I picked up A Life Worth Living. Published by iUniverse (not unlike AuthorHouse, which published my first four books), it's a powerful, compelling story. I couldn't put it down.
Like most first-time authors, Nick's manuscript would have benefitted from having a second set of experienced eyes (an editor) look it over before he submitted it to iUniverse to publish, but let me assure you, it's easy to overlook the tome's few editing lapses because the story is an absolute page-turner from start to finish.
Nick has been through the wringer already in his young life: his mother struggled with schizophrenia for decades until she found a reliable drug to help her, leaving Nick to fend for himself at home pretty much while keeping an eye on his mom to prevent her from committing suicide during the depression phase of her disorder and to chase after her and cut her off at the pass to keep her from spending the family's income on a gambling addiction when her mood was on the upswing (into the stratosphere).
All of this responsibility at such a young age took its toll on Nick. He developed a predilection for one of his mom's prescribed drugs (which he pilfered once to calm his intense anxiety, then went out and scored his own prescription for it by feigning -- or capitalizing on -- his own ADD tendencies). From then on, and for years, he battled his own dependency on mind-altering drugs while continuing to try to keep his mother stabilized on hers. It's a heartbreaking but ultimately triumphant story. I'm glad Nick says at the outset that the story ends happily or I would have been on the edge of my seat the whole way through praying for just such an outcome. No youngster should be saddled with the responsibilities he had to deal with from a very young age... but alas, many do... and Nick's story should bring hope to a lot of them.
I give the book an A+ for Nick's storytelling ability and a C for editing. I hope next time he writes a book he'll tap me as a local editor. But as long as he gets someone professional (as all successful authors do) to burnish and buff up the few unfortunate blemishes (this book has numerous errors in punctuation, some clunky metaphors, and a number of sentences that are less powerful than they could be), he should enjoy a long and successful career as a writer.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to sit, read, and vicariously cheer on a formerly-troubled, extremely talented new author who has laid bare both his journey and his soul to help others who are facing immense life challenges and personal demons of their own. I also recommend it for those who wonder how the wonderful kids they know could have ended up addicted to drugs. Most don't get there simply on a lark. Something in this life is so unsettling and beyond their own control that a lot of kids opt for a prescription drug to take the edge off their anxiety and fear. Many addictions start innocently enough, then take over with a vengeance. Nick's story shows there can be light at the end of the tunnel.