I actually finished reading this book about 3 weeks ago and chose to sit on the review for a while to get my thoughts together. If there was ever going to be a story called gritty, raw and real it's this collection of memoirs. This is Nicole's journey through emotional turmoil, drug use, grief and recovery. I went through a roller coaster of emotion while reading about her story and I have to say I am very conflicted about the book after finishing both stories.
Memoirs Aren't Fairytales is the gem in this collection for me. We meet Nicole at the end of her drive to start a new life in Boston with her best friend Eric. Trying to escape a horrible experience in college that has left her with more scars than she will admit, we watch the two of them struggle with paying rent, finding jobs and falling head first into the drug world of Boston. Reading two teenagers struggling this hard and then sliding into what you as a reader know is going to be a horrific road ahead is hard to handle but it was beautifully written. You can almost feel all the emotions that Nicole is going through and her slow decent into hell. Other than the fact that the end seemed really rushed, it gave you a huge range of events that Nicole experiences without feeling scatted. I felt like this first book was as detailed as you could possibly get without losing that character depth that makes up a great book and it succeeded in showing the aspects of a drug world that aren't rosy without being blatantly lewd.
The second book, Scars of a Memoir, however really didn't do it for me. Coming out of jail and into the real world again, you'd expect Nicole to stumble and fail at points, and that was totally fine with me, however what transpires doesn't seem real to me. Take for example, Mark, her once boss turned savior in the form of love. Is it realistic that someone so tied to her past would be able to keep her straight when it turned to drugs? I doubt this. That and the fact he didn't really do anything to help her with her problem even though he has his own brother that struggled with substance abuse and he should have known better just felt wrong to me. In fact, the way she ran into all these people that had some connection to her previous version of life just seemed force not organic and it turned me off. Add the ending in and I was completely befuddled when I finished. The only thing that seemed to flow correctly was Nicole's transition from drug addicted to helping the addicted. I could see that in her heart that's the kind of person she was and was the only consistent story line from the first book to the second that made any sense.
I struggled to rate this book because of how polarizing I felt from one book to the next. I loved the first, thought it was great story telling mixed with character development and raw actions that held my attention from beginning to end. I would give the first story a 5 if I could rate them separately. The second book disappointed me thoroughly. It didn't create new characters with staying power, and fell into a hole with the past invading but not influencing the present. Too many things just felt wrong to me that I would only give it a 2. In the end I gave it a 3 because I would recommend the first book to everyone but the second I just can't get over