Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review & Tour Stop: Everything I Never Wanted To Be by Dina Kucera

Everything I Never Wanted to Be: A Memoir of Alcoholism and Addiction, Faith and Family, Hope and Humor

Author: Dina Kucera

Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Dream of Things (October 1, 2010)



"Everything I Never Wanted to Be is the true story of a family’s battle with alcoholism and drug addiction. Dina’s grandfather and father were alcoholics. Her grandmother was a pill addict. Dina is an alcoholic and pill addict, and all three of her daughters struggle with alcohol and drug addiction—including her youngest daughter, who started using heroin at age fourteen. Dina’s household also includes her husband and his unemployed identical twin, her mother who has Parkinson’s Disease, and her grandson who has cerebral palsy. On top of all that, Dina is trying to make it as a stand-up comic and author so she can quit her crummy job as a grocery store clerk. Through it all, Dina does her best to hold her family together, keep her faith, and maintain her sense of humor.
Everything I Never Wanted to Be includes a number of horrific events. But in the end, it is an uplifting story with valuable lessons for parents and teens alike, and a strong message about the need to address the epidemic of teen drug addiction in our nation.
It’s a book that can change behavior and save lives—and make you laugh along the way"

My thoughts: 
I was very excited to read this book. The combination of two of my favorite genres, humor and addiction, was something I hadn't seen before.  I was not disappointed. Her writing is wonderful. This is truly a no-holds barred memoir. I laughed out loud and then two pages later I was fighting back tears. It's quite the emotional roller-coaster.

She writes candidly about her daughter's drug addiction, abuse issues and OCD behaviors. I adored the first few chapters when she was describing a typical "day in the life". Battling her own anxiety, dealing with her kid's behavioral disorders, taking care of an elderly parent, she describes all these things with humility and hilarity.

My heart really went out to her youngest daughter Carly. Inserted throughout the book are notes that Carly had written as a child and teenager.I was shocked to hear about how little treatment was available for a teen suffering severe drug addiction to heroin. Dina was her biggest advocate and stresses over and over how important it is to make sure that any child suffering from addiction receives the help they deserve. 

She never once tries to make the reader feel sorry for her. She looks at her situation with humor and honesty and makes the best with what she has. She has no problem admitting her less than stellar job performance where a "smile is part of the uniform" no matter how she's feeling or admitting her Thanksgiving china is from the dollar store. 

I will definitely be reading anything else that Dina Kucera writes. I couldn't put this book down! 

Teaser: (This was one of my favorite parts.)
"Hold your head up and have a cappuccino. Take a trip. Hang your Christmas lights and hide colored eggs. Cry, laugh, then take a nap. And when we all get to the end of the road, I'm going to write a story that's so happy it's going to make your liver explode. It's going to be a great day."  (pg 119)

I would rate this book: 5.0/5.0

About Dina Kucera:
Dina Kucera was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After completing a project to collect and identify fifty insects, she graduated from the ninth grade and left school for good. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Her first job was a paper route, and she has worked as a maid, bartender, waitress, and grocery store checker. Dina has also been a stand-up comic for twenty years, for which she receives payment ranging from a small amount of money to a very, very small amount of money. When it comes to awards and recognition, she was once nominated for a Girl Scout sugar cookie award, but she never actually received the award because her father decided to stop at a bar instead of going to the award ceremony. Dina waited on the curb outside the bar, repeatedly saying to panhandlers, “Sorry. I don’t have any money. I’m seven.” Dina is married with three daughters, one stepson, and one grandson. She currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided to me courtesy of Pump Up Your Book Tours. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review in any way.


  1. Wow...fantastic review! Thank you!

  2. A heartwrenching story, and I like meeting people like Dina who make a point of getting through with some humor and perserverance. I feel her, I really do.

    Glad I found you from Cym Lowell's blog hop.
    Madame Perry's Salon

  3. Usually I'm not drawn to books on addiction. Although they might be helpful, I find myself weary and troubled when I turn the final page. Then an author like Dina Kucera comes along and puts another face on dependency. A hope. A tremendous humor laced in heart and raw truth.

    Perfect example?

    "I thought I could make her better. With love. Am I the only one? Do other parents try this exhausting road making them stay clean with "love"?
    Another thing I'm guilty of is thinking, If she has a Coach purse like the other girls, she will stop using heroin. I can't count the number of times I've heard drug addicts say, "I was a heroin addict, then I got a Coach purse and never used heroin again." (page 78-79)

    I have gone down this road before...thinking "things" constitute love. Even if you have never been around someone who loves a substance more than you, this is a great read.

    Annie Boreson

  4. Thank you all for the beautiful encouraging posts!!!! Dina

  5. Really!?!? I LOVE books that make me laugh AND cry. Out of all of the books I've read this year, the two that managed to do that were both non-fiction, which I've usually steered clear of, but reading those has given me a change of heart. I'm going to have to add this to my list! Thanks for the review!

    Julie @ Knitting and Sundries