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“Storm recounts his struggle with alcohol and heroin addiction in this debut recovery memoir.

The author writes that he wasn’t someone whom most people would expect to become an addict: “I didn’t come from a broken home or experience any childhood trauma,” he writes early on, adding, “I can’t tell you why I became an addict, but I can tell you how I became one.” Storm started drinking alcohol when he was 12, he says, to fit in with his peers, and he kept doing so because he found it gave him confidence and a sense of belonging. He soon began smoking marijuana, and he financed this habit with the proceeds of his newspaper route before deciding to sell the stuff himself. He didn’t start using hard drugs, including cocaine and Percocet, he says, until his mother died of a brain aneurysm in 2001, when he was 20. Devastated by the loss and without much in the way of ambition outside of a fledgling rap career, Storm quickly descended into the depths of addiction. His life in North Philadelphia was characterized by daily violence and desperate decisions, and it was only by an act of fate, he says, that he managed to pull himself back from the brink. In this work, Storm details how he fell into such a dark place, how he was able to climb back out, and how he’s remained clean and sober since 2010. His plainspoken prose is earnest and unadorned, as when he describes a drug buy gone awry: “One of the dealers pulled a gun from behind the step and stuck it in my face….To be honest, I wasn’t even shaken up over the incident; I was more concerned with getting high.” Storm’s spare, matter-of-fact storytelling style is mostly free of melodrama and personal mythmaking. Instead, it effectively captures the arc of addiction and recovery in such a way that even those who haven’t struggled with substance abuse may recognize something of themselves in this story.

A frank and affecting remembrance of personal struggle and triumph.”

-Kirkus Reviews

(This review can be found here:

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“‘Truth be told, I was excited to see what was waiting for me on the other side,’ Storm writes in the first chapter of this unflinching yet hopeful memoir of facing addiction. Before Storm, ten years sober at publication time, could choose to live and dedicate himself to the hard work of sobriety, he faced death itself, willingly, with a chilling sense of ceremony. That harrowing opening chapter recounts, with detail worthy of a noir novel, the thieving, multiple drug transactions, and curious excitement of the January night that Storm tried to die on the train tracks in Northeast Philadelphia—and how he was jolted back by an ex’s out-of-the-blue effort to contact him. The book that follows reveals how he got to that point, what happened next, his AA journey, and how, a little over a decade later, he’s found purpose in helping others who are facing similar demons.

Despite the title, there’s excitement and wit here, too. Writing with crisp clarity and power, plus an eye for the telling detail, Storm digs into his love of hip hop, his youthful penning of rhymes, and the way trouble at first seemed manageable. But some of the kids living on the edge in any high school fall off. For Storm, working in a Xanax blur at McDonald’s at 16 soon leads to hustling “works” (syringes) on the street, subsisting on “sugar sandwiches” made from purloined sugar packets, and working with an addict whom he fell for in detox to shake down her ex-boyfriend.

Tense confrontations, dope-sick sweats, HIV scares, a murder, lost time with loved ones: The Struggle lays out its tragedies and miseries without a sense of romance or braggadocio, instead relating the facts (as Storm recalls them) in prose that moves quickly and never suggests self-pity. Material about AA and recovery proves as compelling as the dark stuff, and the everyday victories in the final chapters—marriage, home ownership, a degree—are especially moving.

Takeaway: This searing but wise account of addiction and recovery inspires as much as it harrows.

Great for fans of: Nic Sheff’s Tweak, Koren Zailckas’s Smashed.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A


(This review can be found here:

“The Struggle: 10 Years Later is an addiction memoir refuting the common notion that heroin addicts always come to a bad end. This could have easily been the case as Brian Storm moved through addiction to more powerful drugs and descended into a life of crime and struggle.

And yet, the book offers the ultimate message of hope with the example that even the most addicted individual has opportunities to recover and change their lives.

Given its subject, readers might anticipate the account will be filled with graphic trigger experiences of violence, murder, suicide, and substance abuse. And, it is. No punches were pulled in the making of this memoir.

But, underlying its candid streetwise message of a white Philadelphia rapper boy’s life gone awry is an inspirational example of how Storm turned his life around against all odds and influences. It serves as a testimony to new possibilities and to never losing hope in life’s battles.

From the start, Storm presents cautions and insights that will compel readers to learn more, introducing his saga with reflections on why and how The Struggle was written:

“I wrote this book to share my experience, strength, and hope for recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism. You will read about how I used drugs and alcohol to fit in and have fun with my friends. Over the years, I became a person I never thought I would become. I hope this book opens the eyes of both addicts and non-addicts and gives a better understanding of how addiction can affect anyone. I tried to be 100% honest in my writing, but the time frames and details may not always be completely accurate. This is because drugs and alcohol have taken a toll on my memory.”

The gritty, honest language and descriptions reinforce the fact that this life experience comes from the streets and the heart: “This moment was the lowest I’d ever felt in my life, at least up until this point. But as I sat there in my own self-pity, little did I know that a Christmas angel would come to save the day. As I sat on the curb, crying my eyes out, at least two dozen people had passed me without even blinking an eye. This made me feel even worse because it proved that nobody gave a fuck about me.”

As low points of despair contrast with high points of hope from unexpected places and experiences, Storm keeps his readers on track with stories of his evolutionary growth process and how it was affected by circumstances both within and beyond his control.

Young adults, particularly, who are on the road towards the spiral Storm experienced will find much to gain from his account of seeking acceptance from his friends while finding himself trapped in a cage of his own choosing, encouraged by influences that did not hold his best interests at heart.

Neither did he. This is perhaps the most hard-hitting message of all: the juxtaposition of social and internal pressures that made his path and choices seem logical, no matter their self-destructive outcomes.

While The Struggle easily reaches all ages, its greatest impact will be on young adults finding their ways in life.

Libraries that choose The Struggle for its candid, gripping accounts of a downfall and recovery will find it especially lends to young adult group and book club discussion. It offers many keys to understanding better choices that come not from the philosophical, protected world of the achiever, but from one who has fallen and yet still successfully risen into a different life and new ways of viewing and defining opportunity and recovery.”

-D. Donavon, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

(This review can be found here: