Should've Been Dead

Lessons from a Crack Addict Who Broke Free

Non-Fiction - Memoir
292 Pages
Reviewed on 02/17/2024
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Author Biography

Sweta Patel teaches high schoolers who face challenges including chronic absences and substance use. She has a master’s degree in English education from Florida State University. Connecting with and re-engaging students who have experienced school failure brings her joy. She hopes Rory’s story will surprise and touch readers the same way it did her students. She lives in Rochester, Minnesota, with her husband and two children. Should’ve Been Dead is her first book.

Rory Londer felt the flip of a switch inside when he tried crack cocaine for the first time. He knew he needed more. For nearly two decades, he chased after this love. Even if it meant couch hopping, living out of motels and his car, or worse, wandering the streets. When he was ready to turn things around, feelings of failure and shame weighed him down. He encountered people in his life who lifted him and gave him a sense of worth. He has given back to the recovery community ever since. He's real, raw, honest, and straight-forward. His words will echo loudly if you're affected by addiction, sitting in self-pity, or paralyzed by fear. His words will move you to act.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Foluso Falaye for Readers' Favorite

Should've Been Dead: Lessons From a Crack Addict Who Broke Free by Sweta Patel and Rory Londer takes readers on the inspirational, chaotic journey of a man who struggled with addiction but found a path to healing and helping others who faced similar struggles. Rory's addiction to crack cocaine and other substances led him to desperate moments involving robbery and other high-risk activities that enabled him to satisfy his cravings. As a result of his addiction, he suffered several challenges, including homelessness, arrests, and a strained relationship with his loved ones. However, Rory eventually found the strength and determination to turn his life around after multiple relapses and errors. Despite facing cancer treatment and losing loved ones, he found a way to create a thriving business and teach others to embrace healthy practices at the Alternative Learning Center in Rochester, Minnesota.

My favorite memoirs display vulnerability, wisdom, and generosity. Should've Been Dead encompasses all this. While reading the book, I was able to connect with a person who went through extremely difficult challenges and still found success while maintaining a positive perspective. Imagine going through chemotherapy and still running a business. I appreciated the author's honest, unrestrained account of his lowest moments, including robbing to feed his addiction and eating out of garbage cans. These difficulties will engender a sense of reassurance in readers who feel alone in their struggles. Not only will they find a voice that understands their challenges but also learn from his profound words and advice. The expertly tackled themes include substance abuse, cancer, crime, mentoring, recovery, business, marriage, loss, and more. Ultimately, Rory's book is a fantastic mix of great features: stories readers can relate to, inspiring feats and deeds, and eye-opening insights into the disease of addiction.

K.C. Finn

Should've Been Dead: Lessons from a Crack Addict Who Broke Free is a work of non-fiction in the memoir, slice of life, and inspirational writing subgenres. It is best suited to mature readers owing to the drug-related subject matter and the use of explicit language throughout. Penned by author Sweta Patel with Rory Londer, readers are invited to explore a raw and authentic narrative that illuminates the transformative journey of Rory’s life. The book encapsulates twelve hard-earned life lessons derived from Londer's tumultuous experiences with addiction and his subsequent redemption. The narrative challenges readers to confront their own vulnerabilities, offering a beacon of hope even in the darkest times.

Reading this book was a compelling experience, as author Sweta Patel masterfully captures Rory Londer's journey from the depths of addiction to rebuilding his life. The lessons shared are not just words on a page; they are profound reflections on resilience, self-discovery, and the power of human connection. Londer's story is not a conventional rags-to-riches tale, but one that delves into the complexities of emerging from the shadows of guilt and shame, and I found the narrative skill in getting into Londer’s head to be second to none. As the psychological elements of the narrative are laid out for us to understand and empathize with more and more, so the light at the end of the tunnel begins to shine brighter. Londer's path from desperation to turning a laundromat into a million-dollar business serves as a testament to the possibility of change and the importance of human connection in the face of addiction, which is a brilliant and bright perspective to offer in such a dark world. Overall, Should've Been Dead is an unflinchingly honest exploration of the human spirit's capacity for transformation and resilience and one that I would highly recommend to memoir readers everywhere.

Alma Boucher

Should've Been Dead, authored by Sweta Patel, is Rory Londer's story of overcoming his addiction to crack cocaine. It took Rory just one hit, and he was on a journey that made him lose sight of what was possible for him in life. For the next seventeen years, Rory would pursue his addiction and stop at nothing to maintain that high. Rory was homeless and frequented a laundromat to stay warm and sometimes had to rummage through trash bins for food. Rory’s strength was to make it happen if he wanted something. His experiences led to the twelve hard-earned lessons he applied in his life, and his legacy is to inspire, uplift, and motivate others to believe in themselves and fight for the life they want.

Should’ve Been Dead by Sweta Patel and Rory Londer was a page-turner that stayed with me long after I finished reading it. The way that Rory overcame his weakness and found the strength to free himself from the bonds of addiction was powerful. His story is genuine, from his heart, and painful, but he never wavered in his love of life or his will to make a difference in the community. In writing this book, the author followed her instincts in vividly describing Rory’s transformation from an addict to a mentor. Rory has changed the lives of countless others by sharing his experience and the lessons he learned from fellow addicts. This book should be used to inspire and educate others, as well as to assist us in making changes in ourselves or a loved one.