Unpacked Sparkle — Book Review


Over a year ago, I left a Mariah Carey concert in Las Vegas after six songs. I had gone on the trip as a present to myself for turning forty. But I couldn’t enjoy it. I was high on multiple drugs, but mostly crystal meth, and extremely drunk. I had been this way the majority of the year and a half since my partner Pack had suddenly passed away.
I found him dead on the bathroom floor one January morning while I was getting ready for work. The police told me I had no rights in my own home and asked me to leave. This was before gay marriage became legal. Life as I knew it changed instantly.
His family pretended I didn’t exist. They mauled our home the day he died, leaving it a ravaged mess. I was kicked out of that home. I was also disinvited to his funeral. In eight days I lost everything that mattered. Not even the law protected me from this.
So I got high in an effort to shoulder the pain. It didn’t work. I carried the heavy weight of unresolved complicated grief and addiction on my back. It was like an elephant. A large, unwieldy elephant that wanted me to die.
No longer able to participate in anything that mattered and unwilling to bear this burden anymore, I went back to my hotel room on the twenty-sixth floor of a casino and looked out on the sparkly lights below. I wanted to be in the light. So I opened the window and decided to jump.
But God intervened. My mother had somehow found me. Help came and I surrendered to the powerlessness of my situation. I asked God to help me. I stayed and I fought and I learned how to love myself. I put on a pair of sparkly shoes I had bought for that barely attended concert and I walked in to the rooms of Crystal Meth Anonymous. I had bought the sparkly shoes hoping Mariah would see me in the audience. Though she didn’t get the chance, you did. You all embraced me and my sparkly shoes. They have become my calling card of experience, strength, and hope.


I had mixed feeling about this book. I got depressed at times, I got irritated at times, I did empathise with the narrator/protagonist.

Mental illness can create a havoc in one’s life if proper care is not provided and here is a family with a history of mental disturbances that has ruined their lives. The society doesn’t take mental illness seriously, for them I should say, they should give this a read. Yes, this book can get you off, obviously, mental disturbance is no fun. I got depressed too seeing the narrator and how his behaviour was affecting his personal and social life. The storytelling is as frenzied as the narrator’s mind must have been during that phase. This book seems a lot like his journal, he’s speaking his heart out- irrespective of the chronology.

Moving on is hard and you can evidently see in this book. Even after reading majority of the book, he’s still stuck to that one fateful day. Many events have been repeated many a times — so even after reading a certain number of pages, I felt I still haven’t progressed much in the story– that put me off a bit and a little irritated.

I was more irritated with his addiction and the justification and also with the fact that he was connected to his partner through drugs. I so do not empathise with addiction, whatever the reasons may be.

Another reason why people should give this a read, is that this book deals with a homosexual relationship. Most of us, heterosexuals or the “normal” ones, even if we don’t admit, have homophobia to some extent. Books like this, which helps us to connect to homosexuals can put some sense to the majority that they are as normal as we are and they deserve as much recognition in the society as we do.

My Rating: 3/5

P.S. I had received an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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