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4.8 out of 5 stars76
4.8 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 28 December 2009
This book is a brilliant, honest, and in places shocking, of a man who came up from the very depths of society to make a success of himself. The problems with drugs, his battle with them - and to emerge and make his life a success - simply brilliant, un-put-downable. I wanted to know just how drugs affected people who indulged. Now I do know. Then the fact that he fought back to having a good life.

Cathy Cave
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on 16 June 2008
Mark Johnson brings us into a world that fortunately for most of us, we never see. This book brings you to the levels that Mark Johnson experienced. The writing is terrific & brings you onto the streets with him & into the turmoil's of his life. This is a very honest book which at times, can be disturbing. I applaud Mark Johnson for getting his life back in order. I am also pleased that his fight has been recognised & totally agree with him when he says his qualifications are his experiences. It's an honest book that takes us down, goes through the 'ups & downs' of his life, the hurt that he passed onto people & try's to explain what drugs does to not only yourself, but to your loved ones. I also admire his honesty. Mark cannot be proud of what he done, but he can be proud of himself now that he came through some shocking experiences that you would not wish on your enemies. Well most of them anyway. Good Luck Mark.
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on 15 May 2007
"Wasted" is a book that will stop you in your tracks. It's no-holds-barred account of a violent childhood and adult life on the streets is at times painful to read. But its a read that you can't put down and which forces you to turn the page... then the next... and then the next.

Its exactly right that Amazon have paired the book with "Abandoned" by Anya Peters. I've read both and they complement each other perfectly - one describing homelessness and childhood suffering from a male perspective the other giving a female point of view.

Two aspects of both books stand out for me. An eye for the telling detail of everyday life that says so much more than a lengthy descirption. And the voice of the central characters which come across so distinctly. Its as though you are there on the streets yourself: in "Wasted" sleeping rough in doorways, looking for that next fix, in "Abandoned" living in your car, trying to maintain a pretence of normality when your situation is anything but. I couldn't say one book is better than the other. Read them both and its an experience you won't forget.
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on 12 February 2015
As far as the journey and the realism, its left me agog. This is my second favourite, as its also my second in terms of actual helpfulness in my opinion as far as finding a way through and something to help you stay sober beyond sobriety.
I read this a few years ago and loved his child-like voice in early years recounted.
In my small but fully earned opinion, if you want something more than symbolic trees to climb, and a deeper understanding and real way out the other side, as did I for decades before I found my book of redemption, Diary of a Drug Fiend by Aleister Crowley, please Dont let the name scare you off, my first read helped me get clean unexpectedly for 6 months from finishing it.
Wasted is beautifully written, and may help an addict feel less alone or even inspired to find help, but Crowley's book was the help.
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on 23 February 2010
I think that this book should be used in schools to educate about drug abuse.

The awful childhood life that the writer had to endure may not have happened to them but it is just as easy for them to get into the downward spiral of drug abuse.
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on 13 May 2007
A stunningingly honest account of Mr Johnsons life growing up in a home where he was not loved in the conventional sense. The book then goes on to depict in vivid prose how he went on to become a heroin and crack cocaine addict and his life living on the streets of Central London. Towards the end of this book Mark receives help and enters into rehabilitation and at last the reader gets a sense that this young man will eventually be able to live a happier, more healthy fulfilled life. Truly one off the most honest accounts I have read in years.
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on 29 May 2009
This is a tour de force. A wonderfully articulate and emotive journey that grips you from start to finish. Johnson is able, with canny turn of phrase, to hold the attention and bring you into his world of increasing desperate acts. Unselfishly he take little glory from his deeds but their full effects are plain for all to read. It does not pull its punches. The best thing here however isn't the warning of addiction or the smart use of language it is the spellbinding way the narrative links across the years it spans. No collection of memories here, this is bone fide compelling drama given a real edge by the fact you know it is all true. This book should be on the curriculum and everyone of GCSE age needs to read it. They might just relate to it, learn life lessons and the art of wonderful story telling.

Better Things [DVD] [2008]
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on 21 July 2009
This book is a superb insight into the downward spiral that a life of drugs and alcohol can bring. I use this book as a resource. If you work with troubled youth then this is a MUST for your book shelf. An excellent read.
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on 4 February 2014
I have just finished this book, and now feel compelled to tell the world about it. There are incredibly shocking parts in the book, some a little hard to read, but his honesty and bravery shine through. You're always on his side, willing him to get help, then when a setback comes along you really feel gutted for him. I am so happy he managed to turn his life around, and then the fact that he went on to help others, is truly inspiring.
I will now think twice when I see beggars and homeless people in London, and instead of avoiding eye contact and chucking money at them, maybe I'll take time out to get them a coffee or a sandwich. I think if we all did the same, the world would be a much friendlier place!
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