Book of the Month: Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari

Just to be completely frank – I never thought I’d read a book like this, much less thoroughly enjoy it. I read this book on recommendation from my boyfriend, who couldn’t put it down. In fact, I was so sure I wouldn’t like it that I refused to buy it, so he bought it for me.

At first, I found this book so tedious and boring, and I’m sure part of that was my sheer reluctance to actually spend the time reading it (I’m stubborn like that). I kept making excuses, and for that reason, it took me FOREVER to finish. If you remember my very first book-related post, my aim was to read a book a month… and I haven’t finished a book since, unless you count my never-ending pile of law school textbooks.

Chasing the Scream is a non-fictional novel based on the war on drugs and the writers’ experiences with people who have been affected by it. It is raw, brutally honest, and beautifully constructed. Like I said, this book is so not up my alley. I have to admit, though, I eventually found myself utterly addicted (pun intended – couldn’t help it).

Firstly, I think it’s important to note that if you’re a fan of beautiful writing, you’ll love this book. Johann Hari writes in such a way that makes you, as the reader, feel totally immersed and involved in the process, almost as if you were having a conversation with him. Hari has a background in journalism, and that definitely translates in this novel, but in a really relatable  and honest way.

The novel itself discusses the history of the war on drugs, common misconceptions on drugs and addicts, and explores possible alternatives to the current way society views illicit substances. Some chapters are so raw and descriptive that it makes the audience deeply empathetic to the stories of some of the addicts Hari interviewed.

A good book in my eyes is one that makes the reader feel – evoking emotion means that the writer has written well enough to physically tap into senses and resonate with the reader. Chasing the Scream made me feel empathetic, angry, and hopeful that one day, society will be able to change the way we see drugs and drug addicts in order to move forward and create a healthier and more proactive system. I highly recommend it – even if you think you won’t enjoy it.

Caitlin xx



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