Monday, November 15, 2010

Everything I Never Wanted To Be by Dina Kucera

A drug or a drink is a life changer. You have saved your own life. It's an awakening from a life spent in loneliness and fear. And once you've surfaced, above the water, your brain will never let you forget it. From that moment on your brain says... get it, get it, get it, get more, get more, and it never quiets. It is relentless. It is bigger than you. It's so loud it's deafening. To tell an addict or alcoholic to stop is the equivalent to saying, "Go back under the water."
Everything I Never Wanted To Be by Dina Kucera is a memoir which is not done justice because to say it is a story of one family's battle with alcoholism and drug addiction, three generations of addicts, fails to capture the most powerful aspect of Everything I Never Wanted To Be which is Kucera's voice. Kucera herself was an alcoholic and pill addict for most of her three daughter's lives, and each of them has struggled with addiction in turn. Her youngest daughter Carly became a heroin addict at only fourteen and has been in and out of rehab since. Kucera's household also includes her mother who suffers from Parkinson's Disease and her grandson with cerebral palsy. Throughout the memoir Kucera struggles to support them all, working as a grocery store clerk despite having dreams of being a stand-up comic and writer. Even while telling a story filled with tragedy Kucera somehow manages to  keep her sense of humour.

Everything I Never Wanted To Be is not a polished book- it is raw and gutsy and brutally honest. Kucera's words sear an imprint on the reader which will not be soon forgotten. It is a book which leaves a mark, managing to stand out despite the popularity of the basic premise. There were particular portions of the memoir which were absolutely breath-taking, specifically a description of what life is like for an addict and how drugs are able to quiet the noise in her brain. Even through the humour though, there is something absolutely heart-breaking about Kucera's story. In an example pulled from her author's bio but which also appears in the novel Kucera writes about how she has never won anything: 
When it comes to awards and recognition, she was once nominated for a Girl Scout sugar cookie award, but she never actually received the award because her father decided to stop at a bar instead of going to the award ceremony. Dina waited on the curb outside the bar, repeatedly saying to panhandlers, “Sorry. I don’t have any money. I’m seven.” 
Kucera's memoir provides an informative and well-written look into life in a family of addicts and the terrible cycle that occurs as one generation gives rise to another with even worse addictions. With three daughters in various stages of recovery/relapse from various addictions, Kucera has experienced firsthand what can happen when a parent is unable to stay clean: it is what occurred to her afterall. She isn't afraid to hold herself responsible for her own role in her daughters' struggles, but at the same time she has finally accepted that recovery is an individual decision which every person has to make for themselves. It is a tragic yet powerful message which will ring true to anyone who has dealt with the consequences of addiction first hand, but it is also insightful for those who have not.  Everything I Never Wanted To Be is a memoir filled with hope and tragedy, it is a story about succumbing to as well as beating the odds; ultimately it is a candid and extremely memorable look into the lives of one family and the adversity they have faced. ****

Number of Pages:  216 pages
Published: October 2010
This review was a part of Pump Up Your Book Tours. Click here to read what other tour hosts thought. For the purpose of this review I was provided with a copy of the book which did not require a positive review. The opinions expressed in this post are completely my own. 


  1. Thanks for hosting Dina today, Zoe! Wonderful review!

  2. If you are interested, another fantastic memoir dealing with alcoholism is Lit by Mary Karr. I highly recommend it. And this book by Dina Kucera sounds incredible. I will be looking for it at the library. Thank you for the review.

  3. Wow sounds like a really interesting book!

    Thanks again for entering my giveaway too! :)

  4. Its been along time since i've enjoyed a really really good book. Well done Dina. Im not an easy reader to empress , But all I can say is WOW >what a great book !!

  5. Thank you Zoe! Love your review... AND I have to say, I lOVE the name Zoe:) Have a great week!:)

  6. Hi
    I have two blogs dealing with my past and present experiences as a recovering bi-polar ADD addict and thing I went through in the depths of my addiction. The websites are and I am looking for authors of blogs who write about addiction and recovery to check out my blogs and leave me helpful comments and possibly link me to their blogs if they find my experiences useful to their readers. Please take the time to see what I have to say. This are my true inner feelings and though at times they are hard to write they help me find myself and perhaps help another addict in the process.
    Thank you for you time,

  7. Thank you Zoe and everyone else for the love! Have a beautiful holiday season!!!! Dina Kucera


Your comments make my day!