Breaking Sad
Mitchell S. Jackson's gripping autobiographical tale about a drug addicted mom and her dealer son.

The constant worry of a person struggling with a terrible drug addiction and a future of (mostly bad) options is only scratching the surface in Mitchell S. Jackson’s autobiographical debut novel The Residue Years. It is a heartwarming — and on numerous occasions heart-dropping — tale of a mother, Grace, and her eldest son, Champ, who feel their way through a whirlwind of highs and lows while trying to rebuild their lives after a series of turbulent years. The relationship between Grace and Champ was influenced by Jackson’s experiences growing up with an addict mother and his own tale of being arrested for selling drugs.

We meet Grace as she prepares to leave rehab and re-enter the world, taking one step closer to getting “off paper.” Her thoughts and fears are comforted by slogans of anonymous self-help groups designed give one the will to live a sober existence. Meanwhile, Champ juggles a double life as a successful student and ballplayer and a lucrative crack-slinging hustler. He’s saving up to purchase the family home that sits in a now-gentrified neighborhood, his last memory of the loving family he desperately fights to keep glued together.

A dealer in the novel explains to Grace, “Supplies is my business. Demand is your business.” Grace is the “demand,” an addict struggling with distancing herself from the woes of drugs, and Champ is the “supply,” a young man trying to live above the risk of the law and maintaining his paperless life projection. And for anyone who has followed Breaking Bad as an Intro to Drug Economics 101, when supply equals demand all parties are satisfied. In the case of The Residue Years when supply and demand are equal, the book resolves leaving the reader in bewilderment and awe.

Throughout the novel, Jackson shares the characters’ inner monologues as they talk to themselves, to the reader, and to other characters in the story. The questions they pose create a depth to the characters not usually told in one’s actions. It’s an adventure where I wanted to believe that it all ends well but, much like Grace’s addiction, hope might be the only thing you have to hold onto in the end.