Thriller or Filler? My Name Is... By Alastair Campbell

This month's book review features Alastair Campbell's fictional take on problem drinking.

Published by Hutchinson

Working in drug and alcohol treatment, it is always interesting to see how the issues we deal with day-to-day are represented in fiction.

Even with the best of intentions, novels, television drama and radio plays slip up. They can reinforce misconceptions and stigma (every character is a criminal, for example, or from a working class background) or the reality of the problems, especially how difficult it can be to truly recover, can be oversimplified. My Name Is… is different.

Campbell has drawn on his own real-life alcohol and depression experiences for this novel about Hannah, her drinking, and how it affects those closest to her. It is these characters who tell the story, rather than Hannah, and it is a neat trick.

Not all of the characters drawn from Hannah’s family, her friends and the professionals who try to help are likeable and, at first, I found some of them a little too stereotypical. Also the inclusion of a few characters who were directly involved with Hannah’s drinking sessions would have given more insight into her problems.

In the final chapter, Campbell hands his pen to Hannah herself. She writes about a life that is full of disruption and regret and yet realises that, compared with others, it does not alone explain the pain she feels or her self-destructive reaction to dealing with it.

I have met many teenagers like Hannah and I know that with the right support such lives can be turned around. By the end, I was desperate for Hannah to have this opportunity.
If anything, that shows how engaging this novel is.

Alan Hopley, director of fundraising, marketing and comms, Addaction

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