Rev. Karen E. Herrick has written a book mostly targeted to adult children of alcoholics that blends science, spiritual exploration and the supernatural to help readers on the road to wholeness. It’s an interesting if occasionally confusing mix.
“You weren’t finished when you were born” is what Herrick’s mother would say when telling the story of her premature birth. As an adult child of a family affected by alcoholism, Herrick took the metaphor of stunted emotional growth to heart and expands upon it here, writing, “how are you going to finish or SOLVE YOURSELF, if you aren’t ‘finished yet’?” To assist in that goal, she cites statistics about alcoholism, offers overviews of some types of therapy, and talks about a broadly inclusive spirituality as a helpful path to emotional growth.
The writing here is clear and succinct, if occasionally too reliant on italicized notes of emphasis (e.g., “I knew this had been the time the incest had taken place”) that make the author sound less confident in her own experiences than intended. Some of the more New-Age-oriented ideas, such as asking God for advice, then listening to the radio to see what wisdom comes through in the lyrics, are sweet but uniformly optimistic. (All the examples lean toward songs such as All You Need is Love, but what if the questioning soul tunes in to Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap?)
Herrick inserts personal recollections into the text, sometimes to excess, though stories from her therapy practice are useful. Her work has combined traditional and esoteric treatments, from AA to ESP, so she has a broad range of material to draw from.
Readers who embrace 12-step programs, Freudian analysis and the paranormal may find the entire book satisfying; others will be left to pick and choose from the smorgasbord. Despite its limitations, Finished will be appreciated by those dealing with the fallout from alcoholism.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.