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In My Skin: A Memoir


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What happens when a bright, well-loved young woman gets hooked on heroin and turns to prostitution to keep up her habit? Hopefully, she eventually shakes free, as Australian Holden does, but most likely a lot goes wrong first. In this vivid and riveting account of her own sudden fall and slow recovery, Holden describes the slow pull toward heroin as her friends and her lover are hooked. Mild, almost bored temptation turns into obsession after she gives it a try. As the drug and the life compromises it encourages take over Holden's universe, she loses her job and rarely sees her family and clean friends. Eventually, desperate for cash for the daily fixes for herself and her inept boyfriend, she starts turning tricks on the street. When, one night, a john turns out to be a scout for temps at a brothel, Holden's story turns. The relative stability of the brothel, and the accompanying relationships with sister prostitutes and even some johns, revives Holden's sense of self and self-worth. Throughout, she tells it like it is. Her depictions of the dark realities she lived through are at times graphic, especially in some of the more difficult scenes with johns, but always clear-eyed. She lets the readers see and judge the situation for themselves. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

The elevated, poetic language of Aussie writer Holden's debut memoir vibrates with passion as she tells the story of the small victories and great obstacles she encountered as a heroin addict who turned to prostitution as a way of supporting her habit. The middle-class Holden, a carefree, artistic bohemian who scraped by selling books, is introduced to the drug in her early twenties by her boyfriend in the small Australian town of St. Kilda at a time when the grunge band Nirvana reigned and heroin was at the peak of its glamour. Holden finds the strength to recover through the help of her supportive family and, ironically, through her struggle with the very hardships she finally escapes. Her acutely vivid prose is a revelation, even if the subject matter is not. Recommended for all public libraries. [Holden's draft manuscript of this book won the Judy Duffy Award for literary excellence. Ed.] Elizabeth Brinkley, Granite Falls, WA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

'It's gritty, compelling and at times thoroughly uncomfortable...Holden's candour is brave and despite her battles-or perhaps because of them-you'll find yourself caring about what happens to her.' West Australian 'Ever wondered how ordinary, educated people drift into the underworld of drugs and prostitution?...Kate Holden takes us there with brutal candour and occasional whimsy...for more than just the voyeuristic factor, it's a hard book to put down.' Advertiser '[A] true tale of survival and a brutally vivid and honest account of a trip to the skids and back.' Nine to Five 'In My Skin is...quite simply in a class of its own. Guardian 'Holden's beautifully written account of her descent into hell is uncomfortably honest about the pleasures, as well as the pains, of life in a brothel...Her talents as a prostitute won her a large clientele. So should her talents as a writer.' Independent 'Breathtakingly candid...Achingly honest' Booklist 'A compelling story of love and squalor that retains humanity and sympathy.' Observer

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