BOOK REVIEW: True story memoir “Addict at 10”

This memoir aims to educate people about addiction and its treatment, help addicts move beyond the past, and inspire them to fulfill their potential. But it totally misses the mark. As always, my honest opinion about what to add (OR NOT) to your recovery library.

minute read

True story memoirs don’t have to be boring

But unfortunately, Derek Steele’s 239 page memoir bored me to no end. It seems to be the attempt of an excellent marketer at creating literature. The result of which, to me, ends in a book dedicated to self-promotion and trying to self-consciously lead by example. At times preachy or self-righteous, I ended up actually NOT liking the author. He just didn’t seem to be able to get out of the “me me me” mode of writing…and fails to connect with his readers in answering the question, “So what?” In comparison and for an excellent read, see Richie Farrell’s “What’s Left of Us“.

Why Addict at 10 Fails

In a quick little summary, there is nothing in Addict at 10 that you can’t get from going to a 12-step meeting. In fact, a meeting would save you time and allow you to contribute, rather than simply being on the receiving end of a monotonous monologue. Unless you are a celebrity, people simply do not care about the chronological events of your life. And you need to have literary finess in order to make a story both interesting, compassionate and engaging. Here are the reasons how I think that this true story memoir does not meet its goals:

1. Too egocentric
2. No literary skill (which should include poignant moments of distilled meaning)
3. Patronizing tone
4. Fails to create and carry a human theme throughout

Suggestions to memoir authors

In an effort to be constructive, however, I offer these suggestions to anyone thinking about writing a true story memoir. My opinion comes from being a student of literature for 15 years…and in working with my husband to help replicate successful business models. But who am I to say? I WELCOME your comments and feedback!

1. Read examples of memoirs with literary finesse. Note what is common among them and copy what works.

2. Start with a core human theme that will run throughout your memoir and connect you with your audience. Build your story around this theme, not around the chronological events of your life (which bore people).

3. Remember and re-live the most poignant moments of your life. Write from the sensations and feelings of these moments in order to dramatize and bring these experiences to life.

4.  Ask for feedback from a published and successful memoir author.  If you need to, pull the plug before you invest any of your own money into publishing a book for yourself.  You may be the only one who enjoys reading about your life.


Too harsh?  What do you think of this review?  Do you have any feedback for addicts willing to write about their own lives?  What do you want to see in a true story memoir about addiction?

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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