Julia Lambert is vacationing in Maine with her elderly parents, and when her oldest son, Steven, joins them for a weekend, it comes to light that her younger son, Jack, is addicted to heroin. Julia enlists the aid of her parents, Steven, her ex-husband Wendell, and her sister Harriet, to collect Jack, conduct an intervention, and send him to a rehabilitation program. Of course, drug addiction is not something that can be fixed overnight, and Jack is especially reluctant to accept help, so each of his family members must deal with their grief about his addiction in their own ways.
Have you ever seen that show Intervention on TLC? Well, Cost is basically an episode of that show in book form. I mean, truly, the novel focuses on one family’s experience of addiction – on the addict, Jack, of course, but addiction destroys an entire family, not just one person. And the book really shows how Jack’s addiction has tremendous ripple effects on each member of his family, and how everyone in the family must make a change in order for Jack to even have a chance of recovery.
While the novel is about Jack’s heroin addiction, and the intervention the family has, and the fruits of that labor, I found Cost to be more of a character-driven novel than anything else. Robinson pays considerable attention to the details of each and every character, drawing the reader into the novel by the relationships between the characters, by the way they each react to Jack’s addiction and their role in it, and how they each handle the result of their efforts to help Jack. Honestly, these characters captivated me. I hung onto their every word, onto their every thought and action, I was completely swept away by the novel. Robinson so expertly crafted these people, she weaved their stories together so perfectly that I am unable to find the words to explain how fantastic of a novel this is. It just blew me away.
While I was initially interested in reading Cost because of the subject matter (I have personal experience with addiction in my family and the subject of addiction both intrigues and fascinates me), I ended up loving it because of the intricately crafted characters, the relationships in the book, and Roxana Robinson’s beautiful writing. The plot is superb, too, don’t get me wrong – it’s just that this novel is so much more than just the story. I cannot recommend Cost high enough, and I will absolutely be reading more of Robinson’s work in the (very) near future.