This post was inspired by The Last Winter of Dani Lancing, a novel by P.D. Viner. Twenty years ago, college student Dani was murdered but her killer was never found. Join From Left to Write on November 7th as we discuss The Last Winter of Dani Lancing. As a member, I received a copy of this book for review purposes.
For this book, I’ll start off by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love a good murder mystery, and this novel had some interesting twists and turns. Something that stood out to me was drug-use and the ‘young adult partying’ that made appearances throughout the novel. Considering my background as a counsellor and current studies in criminology, this was something that hit home for me.
Before I went back to school for my MA, I was working as a counsellor in a group home for teenage girls, and I also spent some time volunteering with a local organization that works with youth in conflict with the law. In both of those placements, I got to see first-hand the effects that drugs and partying can have on kids. Girls who would lose their babies to social services for failed drug tests. Kids that would get kicked out of school for dealing on school grounds. Girls would tell me stories of staying awake for an entire weekend drinking at 14 years old. All of these were eye-opening to me. Sure, I had the occasional wild weekend as a teenager and as a young adult, but these were something else.
Of course, for all of these kids they didn’t start off extreme. It’s one drink, then another (or one hit, then another) and it escalates, until drugs or drinking becomes part of their daily lives. It’s scary to think about, and saddens me that there are young people out there living in those sorts of conditions. For a lot of people, the occasional drinking bender or experimentation with drugs is a part of growing up, but for others it becomes extreme to the point where it costs them everything – money, their health, relationships, kids, and ultimately, their life. It’s scary. The ‘partying lifestyle’ becomes all-consuming, a gateway to more drinking, to heavier drugs, to more parties, until they fall into complete addiction.
Most people understand that they have limits. A lot of us go through college or university choosing to drink on the weekends (or four days a week) but eventually realize the havoc it plays and we grow out of it. We realize that engaging in that activity all.the.time. has a nasty effect on our overall health and wellness, our relationships, and our ability to accomplish our goals. We decide that those sorts of behaviours and activities are better left in our past, something only to be recreated in moderation once in a while (or never again).
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a squeaky-clean past when it comes to ‘partying’, and I still head to the bars or a house party if I have an occasion to celebrate. But I don’t do it on a regular basis, and I stop when I know I’ve had too much. I think that people with a history of an ED have a bit of an addictive personality – for myself, I was a bit addictive to that ’empty’ feeling and that feeling of power when I knew I had it in me to minimize or skip a meal. So maybe I should consider myself lucky that as a young adult, I knew what my limits were and didn’t let myself have an ending like one of the characters in this novel.
Definitely NOT what I normally write about on the blog, but I’d love to hear any input!
<— Did you have ‘wild partying’ days? Maybe not to the extreme, but days where you would ‘party’ a little too often?
<— Was it something that you just grew out of, or did you have a turning point where you realized you hit your limit?
<— What are you reading right now? Best book you’ve read lately?