Book review: Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife

I don’t think I’ve ever devoured a book so quickly yet been completely unsure if I loved or hated it. I have no idea how to rate Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife on Goodreads. At the very least I’d give it 2 stars, but feel it’s worth 3 for entertainment value alone. But entertaining doesn’t mean substantive when it comes to recovery memoirs.

Talk about throwing people under the bus! Brenda Wilhemson published her diary from her first year of recovery, and no one is spared. I used to keep a journal years ago, but stopped when I realized I was using it primarily to bitch about other people. Maybe it vented built-up resentment, but I felt embarrassed cataloging every slight from my coworkers and spouse. Brenda bitches in excruciating detail about her friends, her parents, her husband…even her fellow AA members.

This is the part that blew my mind. It’s one thing to write an anonymous blog detailing how a “friend” relapsed and peed his pants while catering the lavish 40th birthday party she threw for herself, but she puts her name right on the cover. If she still goes to meetings, I can’t imagine the backlash she felt. It makes for fascinating reading, but she comes across as a self-aggrandizing asshole.

Still, I may not have liked her, but I could relate to her. One reviewer on amazon criticized her for not doing 90 meetings in 90 days and for being around alcohol so much in early sobriety. I didn’t do 90 in 90 either, so this hit a nerve. I wasn’t being obstinate – I work full time, have two young kids and my husband’s work schedule limits which meetings I can go to. In the first 90 days, I made 2-3 meetings a week and that worked for me. As for the alcohol, I was around it daily at home and I didn’t drink. I’m not saying it was ideal, but I think it taught me that alcohol is still going to be out there, and it was up to me to keep making meetings and remembering why I stopped drinking in the first place.

The thing I loved about Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife was her brutal honesty. The thing I hated about it was her brutal honesty. Go figure, another paradox in recovery.

7 thoughts on “Book review: Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife

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  1. I thought I was the only one who felt this way about this book. At times I found that I could relate totally to her and at other times I felt like I should look away…I was embarrassed for her and her friends.

    As to the 90 in 90 and the critisizms and “shoulds” some people feel are necessary. I think that it just shows how different alcoholism is for women and especially those of us who managed to hold down our jobs, keep our homes, and raise all children (albeit not very well in my case) in spite of escalating drinking. Just as everyone’s bottom is different, everyone’s program should be different as well.

    Guess you and Brenda hit a nerve with me as well.

    Thanks for the review. It’s good to know that others felt the way I did.


    1. Couldn’t agree more with this…there aren’t many moms with young kids at meetings I go to. In fact, I can’t think of any. That’s why I’m glad I have the internetz and commenters like you.


  2. Neither I did the 90-90, nor will I ever do. I like having a life now that I’m sober. AA will always be a part of my life, but will never be my entire life.

    Thank you for the book review, very much appreciated. I have never heard about it and now you awoke my curiosity – I will check it out sure 🙂

    Take care!


  3. Damn… now I must remain sober forever and ever only to prove sobriety can be maintained without the 90-90 😉


  4. I never got close to 90 in 90 – I did however spend the first 6 weeks of my recovery in a rehab so – blah!

    “are suggested as a program of recovery” – I see no 90 in 90, no sponsor, no must pray on your knees … and the 1001 other things I’ve been told if I don’t do I won’t stay sober. Thankfully the programme (correct spl by the way unlike in the book… anyone would think an American wrote it ;-)) is more accommodating than the attitudes of these people. If asked I say “Get to as many meetings as you can. Try different meetings and meet different people.” If a newcomer tells me their head is spinning or they are tempted by a drink I normally just say “Try not to drink and try to get to a meeting”…

    I have people I speak to earnestly in AA about things, not just one, I don’t really have a “sponsor” any more, I have a group of people who are like minded and likely to give me singularly good advice if I ask it. I don’t to the on the knees things as my concept of a higher power or God as we understand him – is so far removed from the Christian iconic father/son/holy spirit – how can we continue this as a monotheistic movement thing as it about as possible to get. I pray all the time – honestly I do – it is about being in touch with my spirit for me so how can I then turn that into a ritual to an external being that doesn’t exist for me…. etc. etc.

    Whoops – completely side tracked on that one… my journal normally only has one villain in it these days… i.e. yours truly and his attempts to bend the world to his will rather than getting in sync with the rest of humanity etc.


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