After six years of sobriety, poet DeSilver admits he was "still one sip of beer away from hell." After 10 years of sobriety, he writes that he wanted to kill the "drunk, stupid and confused" boy he had been at age 19. The emotional force of DeSilver's memoir lies in the author's ability to record raw and painful memories of addiction, while also reflecting on turning points that lead him to form a new identity. Skirting a fine line between acceptance and blame, he describes the eccentric characters implicated in his downward spiral (e.g., his gin-swilling, cigarette-smoking mother, whose pretentions were matched by her fondness for profanity; a devil of a German governess reminiscent of a Roald Dahl villain; a renegade high school teacher who supplied students with alcohol and cocaine), as well as the heroes who helped save him: a wise prostitute in Nairobi, photo-historian Arlan Silverman, American Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, and Indian spiritual leader Nisargadatta Maharaj. DeSilver's seesawing journey from drug and alcohol addiction to recovery—all filled with epiphanies and backsliding, clarity and bewilderment—will keep readers committed to his story until, at last, he learns to "beam" without self-destructing and finds peace and stability in a loving relationship and meditation.