In our morning reading: fiction by Laura van den Berg, an interview with Christopher Beha, and more.
The United States’ opioid epidemic continues to cost tens of thousands of Americans their lives each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that nearly 450,000 Americans died of overdoses involving opioids between 1999 and 2018, with more than 46,000 of those deaths occurring in 2018 alone. The crisis has personally impacted Rose Andersen, whose debut memoir The Heart and Other Monsters sorts through the past to better understand the life of her younger sister Sarah, who suffered a fatal drug overdose in 2013, when she was twenty-four. At the onset of this story, we are provided a disclaimer: Some of the events in this memoir have been fictionalized, imagined by the author in instances where she was not physically present to witness what actually happened. The invented scenes pertain to the nature of Sarah’s death; while Sarah was indeed a drug addict who died of an overdose, Andersen has reason to believe she was murdered, and in this book, she lays out the case.