cover image First in the Family: A Story of Survival, Recovery, and the American Dream

First in the Family: A Story of Survival, Recovery, and the American Dream

Jessica Hoppe. Flatiron, $29.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-86522-9

Hoppe debuts with a bold and illuminating account of getting sober and her attempts to “decolonize recovery” by deconstructing ingrained narratives about people of color and substance abuse. Writing that “the most powerful weapon in this American arsenal is the story,” Hoppe begins with her own, recounting her childhood in Texas and New Jersey as the daughter of Honduran and Ecuadoran immigrants. In college, after her parents divorced and her sisters left home, Hoppe started drinking heavily and using drugs. Following a near-death experience, she enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous on the advice of a therapist. She got sober, but was unsure how to share the news with her family, so she kept it to herself. Then, in 2020, Hoppe’s cousin died of an overdose, and she learned that her family had a long, silent history with addiction. Newly empowered with that knowledge and struggling to maintain her own sobriety, Hoppe grew curious about what moved her and her cousin to stay silent about their addictions. Her curiosity led her to investigate BIPOC-led sobriety programs, including White Bison’s book The Red Road to Wellbriety, as well as her own discomfort with majority-white AA meetings that introduced her to openly racist sobriety partners. She presents her findings in sharp, forceful prose, effortlessly weaving together her personal story and her insights into the intersection between race and sobriety. This is essential reading. Agent: Johanna Castillo, Writers House. (Sept.)