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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Smack in the Middle is a work of non-fiction focusing on a memoir style to recount a career, and it was penned by Gibbs Williams Ph.D., with the aid of Joel Samberg. Subtitled “My Turbulent Time Treating Heroin Addicts at Odyssey House”, the events of the recollections take place more than fifty years ago in the late 1960s, when drug use was on a sharp rise. More than just the everyday struggles of the users and the staff members who were trying to help them, there is much discussion about the abuse of power when looking at Odyssey House’s leader, and reflections on rehab and power relations in the modern-day.
Author team Gibbs Williams and Joel Samberg recount a fascinating period of a dark history that we often don’t think of when we think about heroin usage and rehab, yet the past has much to teach us about how things have been and continue to be done. The prose is heartfelt and natural, taking readers from the simple to the sublime in the array of different experiences that the author has with patients seeking treatment at the aptly-named Odyssey House. The organization of the many incidents which are chronicled makes good sense, taking readers from tale to tale with clear breaks, and leaving observations and parallels to the modern-day to their appropriate moment to be brought up. These observations are poignant and well put without being preachy or political, and they elevate Smack in the Middle to a sophisticated and informative memoir that’s well worth a read.