“Doctor Sleep” Even The Most Damaged People Can Rebuild Their Lives

Stephen King at the Harvard Book Store.
Stephen King at the Harvard Book Store. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A trip to the bookstore…

Just the other day one of our associates mentioned that she and her son stopped in a bookstore to browse and buy a couple of classic fictional works to read. She related that as they wandered through the store they came across a display of the new novel “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King. They had a short conversation about how it is the sequel to King’s “The Shining,” which she admitted she had never read or seen the movie from start to finish. This candid admission mildly shocked her son, but then he recalled that it was almost 20 years ago that his mom was surprised to learn that two of her favorite movies, Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption, were based on Stephen King novellas.

What you can learn by reading book reviews…

While we often write blog posts about newly published books that deal with addiction and recovery, somehow we did not anticipate that one of the underlying themes of Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep” would be recovery. That was until we started reading the reviews of “Doctor Sleep” and we learned how intimately Mr. King understands the disease of addiction and the miracle of recovery.

For example, Emma Brockes writing for The Guardian offers an engaging review that is complimented by the fact that she actually traveled to Maine to meet and interview Mr. King. Her article, which we hope you will read, offers insight into his life…dating back to his childhood, touching on his life as a school teacher, writing his first book, marrying his wife, raising their children, his alcoholism, addiction to cocaine and a family staged intervention that took place in the late 1980’s.  Brockes reports on King speaking of his wife and their three children, the intervention and his sobriety:

They are a close family. Both boys are now writers and Naomi, who also writes, is a Unitarian minister. They have come a long way since the bad old days when Tabitha threatened to leave him if he didn’t stop boozing and taking cocaine. Owen, his youngest, was 10 then and Naomi 17. It is better to be frank about these things, King believes, since people always find out about them anyway. But memories of the intervention are still painful.

“There’s a thing in AA, something they read in a lot of meetings, The Promises. Most of those promises have come true in my life: we’ll come to know a new freedom and new happiness, that’s true. But it also says in there: we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. And I have no wish to shut the door on the past. I have been pretty upfront about my past. But do I regret? I do. I do. I regret the necessity.”

…the miracle of recovery

Here at Cottonwood we offer a family program. The goal of family program is to help families relearn behavioral interaction so that healthy behaviors become logical. Interpersonal change that can be sustained after treatment requires a movement from following direction (first order change) to internalizing new ways of interacting (second order change). Families shift from obsessive worry and controlling behaviors to acknowledging that which is outside of their control and learn to focus on their own personal needs and boundaries. They learn to detach from the pain, and not from the person.

Many times family members cannot imagine what their loved one will be like in sobriety and living a life in recovery. Stephen King’s years of sobriety symbolize a hopefulness that many parents, spouses and children yearn to witness in their loved one. And so it seems that King’s “Doctor Sleep” also offers us a glimpse of that hope…as Gene Rodriguez writes for the Miami Herald:

The bulk of “Doctor Sleep” is the kind of exciting and elaborate chase adventure King excels at crafting. But the author rarely writes novels these days that end with a devastating finale. You read “Doctor Sleep” in the same furious rush with which most people read “The Shining,” but the stakes are much lower, and the ending is never really in doubt.

And although the book contains some profoundly disturbing passages (including the Knot’s prolonged torture and murder of a little boy), “Doctor Sleep” is never all that scary. The book is best at depicting how even the most damaged people can rebuild their lives — a theme that gives the novel an autobiographical air.

The title refers to the job Dan gets at a hospice, where he uses his powers to help comfort the dying as they make their way into the afterlife. King makes those sequences strangely affecting, even moving.

In the latter stage of this remarkably prolific writer’s career, his trademark penchant for ghastly, bloody horror is gradually being overshadowed by humane, heartfelt compassion.

Take a bit of time to read some reviews listed below and let us know if your read “Doctor Sleep.”

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