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Memoir Review: The Reckless Years by Frank Kusy

January 22, 2018

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Link to book on Amazon

The first thing that the reader has to do when they start this book is to suspend any kind of moral judgement about author Frank Kusy’s drug activities. The best approach is simply to read it…and be amazed.

Written from both Frank’s and his wife’s perspectives in alternating chapters, this totally honest, unselfconscious memoir tells the story of how the couple descend into a nightmarish, drug taking cycle following their marriage. The trigger? Not the wedding itself, but the fact that Frank’s mother died on that day too. I must say I wasn’t sure what Frank actually felt for his mother. He seemed to be both devoted to her and frustrated by her, so because of the latter, it wasn’t quite clear to me why her death should have cast him into such despair. What surprised me more, however, was that he was already forty when the period began, and over fifty when he finally managed to get himself out of it by discovering the joys of natural endorphins. The saddest part was that his wife (Madge), a spunky, clever Dutch academic, was so loyal to him that she followed suit and the pair of them nearly destroyed each other in the process.

I really liked the way the book was written (one chapter by Frank and the next by Madge), and I must say, I especially liked Madge’s chapters. As an adoptive Nederlander, I recognised many of her lovely honest characteristics from my Dutch friends. Added to that, she made me laugh out loud at times. I have a feeling her culture had much to do with the fact she was mentally strong enough to survive the disaster (sorry, Mr Kusy) that her husband became. Luckily, all turns out well in the end, and Frank and Madge are now openly in love with each other, which is a wonderful outcome.

Did I enjoy the book? Not really – how can one enjoy a story of self destruction? But I was fascinated by it and it could well give courage to others going through the same hell. It is very well written, sometimes very funny, and overall, quite gripping. In other words, a truly compelling read. Hats off for your honesty, Mr and Mrs Kusy. May you live a long and loving life together. After what you went through, you deserve it!

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