“A lot of people think that addiction is a choice. A lot of people think it’s a matter of will. That has not been my experience. I don’t find it to have anything to do with strength. — Matthew Perry”

The opioid crisis certainly has its hooks in American society. In addition to playing out in the headlines, stories of addiction have grown increasingly popular in books, television and film. Our latest read takes us to a poor neighborhood in Philadelphia, where most in the community have had their lives impacted by addiction.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Liz Moore’s latest novel “Long Bright River” is not a typical cop drama. With her narrative set against an addiction-riddled community, Mickey’s perspective on the neighborhood she patrols is colored by her childhood and her family’s history of drug use. While Mickey no longer speaks to her sister, due to an addiction-fueled falling out, she still looks for Kacey on every corner hoping that her sister will become motivated to get clean. Everytime Mickey responds to a call for an OD, she hopes that Kacey isn’t the person she’ll find. After responding to an OD with signs of foul play, Mickey notices that her sister has gone missing. As the bodies begin to pile up, Mickey can’t help but worry that her missing sister will be next and goes off book to try and track her down.

Moore writes an entrancing tale that weaves through the sister’s shared past and Mickey’s present day situation. In a time when those suffering from addiction are looked down upon as just another junkie, Moore takes care with these characters to reveal how addiction can sink its hooks in a community.

From the book jacket…

“In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don’t speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.

“Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey’s district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit — and her sister — before it’s too late.”

If you enjoy…

For readers who enjoyed the complicated sister relationship in “Long Bright River,” consider cracking the spine on Lisa See’s “Shanghai Girls.” The novel tells the story of two sisters as they flee from their war-torn home in Shanghai to settle into a new life in the United States.