The following piece was recently published on boston.com.
When you’re an addict, life is all about you.
Finding the next hit is a full-time job. You think about yourself from the moment you open your eyes in the morning to the second you nod off, and for every hustle-filled hour in between.
Standing before a judge for the 5th, 6th, 20th time, there is still only that ruined you. Unless you’re lucky enough to get a judge who sees in you what you cannot. Instead of sending you to jail, the judge sends you to a book club.
Yes, a book club — where, if you’re lucky, you’ll glimpse something beyond your shattered self.
“You enter a world other than your daily life,’’ said Meaghan, a tall, 31-year-old addict who spent 10 years in the system, most recently for writing false prescriptions. “I find myself thinking about the characters in the books during the day.’’
On a recent Tuesday night, Meaghan and six other women sat in a green-carpeted classroom at Middlesex Community College, turning over the characters in Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye.’’
All seven were sentenced to the program, called “Changing Lives Through Literature,’’ instead of jail or straight probation. They’re required to read a book and show up on time to discuss it every other Tuesday for 14 weeks. The group also includes their probation officers, and, often, a judge, too.