Published: 21 November 2017
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Category: Contemporary/Young Adult/Fiction
Adam Hawthorne is fine.
Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists.
But Adam is fine.
When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel.
Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.
Rating: 2 Stars
Trigger warning: destructive behavior mentions including alcoholism and self harm; also, I talk about the main character’s comments about such behavior in the course of the story in this review.
I want to preface my review of The Temptation of Adam by saying that it’s a difficult subject to tackle. Addiction is a deeply personal and variable subject, so I tried to comment on the portrayal within this book and my opinion of that portrayal respectfully. If I have inadvertently offended anyone, I most humbly apologize.
I can’t remember reading many books that deal with addiction any kind. Growing up, I think the closest ones were some Ellen Hopkins or Go Ask Alice types. Fine enough in their own right, but limited. Seeing The Temptation of Adam as a relevant title to this age of consumption, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what Dave Connis’s portrayal would be.
His portrayal of addiction, at least from my experience, had authenticity. The denial of a problem, the rejection of fault, can definitely be felt within Adam’s situation. It was a hard read sometimes because even knowing Adam had an addiction and we’re viewing the people around him through his scope, and even though I really didn’t like Adam as a person addiction or no, it was at times easy to side with him. That maybe he was being put upon by Mr. Cratcher or his dad. That balance in the writing was a shock at times when I realized what was taking place.
There were a few things that I had issues with that made this a difficult book to like, aside from the subject matter. Two of these are Adam’s indelicacy and his personal relationship with Dez.
When first meeting the Knights of Vice, Mr. Cratcher’s support group, he makes callous and inaccurate remarks about one of the members, Elliot’s, addiction to self harm, which “he saw coming with the hair”. He also calls it strange that Elliot cuts “because guys don’t cut”. I want to believe that Adam was uninformed about the subject and the author chose to portray that, albeit poorly in my opinion, but nonetheless, that passage struck me as one to look out for because it felt wrong. It didn’t feel like part of his defense of not having an addiction, his opinion that he was better than everyone there because he had his porn consumption under control. It felt extra and bad.
The relationship aspect between Adam and Dez in this book felt weird for a couple of reasons. First of which is that Adam (and I’m only mentioning him because he’s our primary window into the story) shouldn’t be focusing on that kind of thing right now when dealing with his addiction, especially a porn addiction.
Second, his choice of girlfriend. Dez is a somewhat interesting character: bold, unafraid of speaking her mind and confront Adam on his suppositions and what she calls his delusions of gender, but she’s in treatment too. Two addicts forming a relationship, an intense romantic one at that, when they’re supposed to be figuring out their own core, was more than a little troubling.
I also wasn’t comfortable with Adam’s sudden turn around and motivation for realizing he has a problem and wanting to quit his pornography addiction. It’s somewhat spoilery so I’ll just say that it felt inauthentic to the character in general and as a whole flat. I’m not saying that in real life it’s 100% impossible, but as it happened in Adam’s situation, it wasn’t believable with who Adam was as a person, so it made his journey toward redemption weak.
There was a lot of intense stuff going on in this book for a lot of people. Adam wasn’t the only one dealing with an addiction that we got to know, just the one we spent the most time seeing through. As such, I would have liked to see a better story for him. As it was, I don’t think the way his was told really worked. There were issues with his character and with his journey and there was so much potential, so much room for growth, that the climax, falling action, and “resolution” was unfulfilling.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.