When I first read the summary about this book and read that the story was about a man who ran a $100 million dollar drug business, I thought this was going to be the non-fiction version of Scarface or I had found the American version of Paublo Escobar. This book was really far from either one.
High is an autobiography of a man named Brian O'Dea. Mr. O'Dea was a charismatic youngster who become involved in the world of drugs. As his love of drugs progressed, he took it upon himself to spread this love as much as he could by selling and dealing drugs throughout the United States and Canada. After developing a crushing cocaine addiction, Mr. O'Dea finally cleans himself up and gets a job working with recovering addicts. After being clean and a productive member of society for several years, his life is once again torn apart when the DEA come knocking at this door. Mr. O'Dea takes a plea and is sentenced to 10 years in jail.
On the surface, the story sounds quite simple. At first glance, I would even say that it was just another low life trying to cash in on the pain, death, and destruction they helped perpetuate. In reality, I felt Mr. O'Dea's story is about hope. He tells an excellent tale of being the privileged child, having your life crushed at the hands of another, getting into drugs, being back on top, have your life crushed again by the drugs you love, and painfully rebuild yourself just to be torn down by an old drug charge. After all that, he was able to pick himself up again and be a productive member of society. While at times I was not sure I liked his story, I thought the power of hope he shows in this story was awesome.
While the story told by Mr. O'Dea was amazing and enjoyable, there were some believability issues in my opinion. My gut instinct is that the book is truthful, but there is a part of me that questions what I read, much like if the neighborhood bully came up to me 10 years later and told me they were a Kindergarten teacher. I have no doubt Mr. O'Dea is an extremely talented individual in some aspects. It seemed anything he could put his mind to could be done. He placed himself to be offered business propositions that would have made him more money than drugs ever did (one potential partner being John Paul DeJoria with his now immensely famous company). However, when it came to being a drug dealer, it seemed Mr. O'Dea had two left feet for a long time. It seemed many of his deals were small time and went badly. Then all of a sudden, he was able to raise millions of dollars to successfully fabricate a deal worth 100's of millions of dollars while the feds were nipping at his heals. Entirely possible, but it just seemed questionable given his history. There are other examples, but I do not want to influence opinions before one reads the book.
I found the format of the book to be a bit annoying. The story jumps between the story of his past and his current life in prison. The jumping back and forth made the book a bit tough to follow at times. I felt the Prologue of the book was a real attention grabber. As a matter of fact, it got my attention as well as a punch to the jaw that knocks out 3 teeth. The Prologue ties in real well with the final chapter, bringing the book full circle
All in all, I thought this was an entertaining read. It was not a blood and guts action packed story that I thought it might be, but I though the story was great on a higher spiritual level. If you are looking for a violence filled book about the illicit drug trade, then this book is not for you. I thought that this was just an OK book about the drug trade. However, if you are looking for a great story of hope when a person has made a few bad choices in life, then this is definitely worth reading.
Well done Mr. O'Dea, you are an inspiration.