Top positive review
34 people found this helpful
Brave, breathtaking, brutally honest
on 25 May 2007
Lazy labels like `misery memoir' are slapped onto books of varying quality. Mark Johnson's Wasted, based on his life on the streets, is in a class of its own. It's a harrowing tale with a happy ending and a strong but far from simple message. Mark is an amazing success story, someone who, after years of abuse and addiction, offending and sleeping rough, has gone on to become living proof that rehab works. You could also say he's an example of the wisdom that comes with experience. In telling his own story, Mark is telling the story of other young people, and it's no surprise his ideas about mentoring are now being taken seriously by the probation service in England and Wales. There's nothing self-serving about his recollections, no denial, no preaching. This is the real deal from a writer who is bigger than the story he's telling, and with a story as powerful and compelling as this that's saying something. When Johnson talks about the world he came from, the one he left behind, and the one he wants to help others out of, his writing has the passing bell ring of truth. "Pranged is the tuning fork that never stops vibrating", Johnson says of the comedown from crack, "Pranged is fingernails on metal dustbin lids. Pranged is your body and mind being cut open and exposed to everything sharp in the world", and "pranged" is what the reader feels after putting down this brave, breathtaking, brutally honest book.