The “powerful and moving” true story of a Long Island family torn apart by drugs, violence, and the unbridgeable divide between generations (Kirkus Reviews).
George Diener, World War II veteran and traveling salesman, and his wife, Carol, had old-fashioned values and ordinary aspirations: a home, a family, the pleasure of watching their two sons grow up. But in February 1972, an unthinkable tragedy occurred in the basement of their Nassau County residence, shattering their hopes and dreams forever.
George and Carol doted on their shy eldest son, Richie. But at fifteen, the boy fell into a devastating downward spiral. He started smoking marijuana, shoplifting, and hanging out with drug dealers, and was soon arrested for assault and expelled from school. By the time his parents sought psychiatric counseling for their son, Richie was addicted to barbiturates and given to violent outbursts and threats. The boy George and Carol knew was long gone. Then, one winter evening, Richie came at his father with a steak knife and a suicidal cry of “Shoot!”
Edgar Award–winning author Thomas Thompson delivers a “scary, harrowing” account of a turbulent era in American history when the gulf between young and old, bohemian and conservative, felt wider and more dangerous than ever before (The New York Times Book Review). A tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, the devastating account of George and Carol Diener’s nightmare was adapted into The Death of Richie, a television movie starring Ben Gazzara, Eileen Brennan, and Robby Benson as Richie.
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Poignant True Story Superbly Written
Richie is a poignant true story about how a young man’s drug addiction not only stole his life but his family’s as well.
George Diener loved his son, Richie, his firstborn more than life itself. But by the time Richie was sixteen he had changed so much, that George hardly recognized him as the boy he raised. Drugs had turned his son into an angry, lying thief. George and Carol had tried everything they knew to help their son, but Richie wasn’t ready to stop using drugs. He loved getting high; in fact, Richie’s entire existence revolved around obtaining his next fix.
Although this true story takes place during the 1970’s, in West Islip, LI, NY, it could be happening anywhere, today. This book clearly demonstrates for the reader, the progression of drug addiction and the devastating effects it has on the user as well as the family.
George and Carol Diener agonized in pain as they watched, helplessly, their son destroy his life. I was engrossed in this well-written book from the first page. Alcohol and drug abuse touches just about every family or extended family in some way. This true emotional novel is not only heartbreaking; it’s compelling and educational as well. The author does a superb job in telling the Diener’s story. Highly recommended.
My sincere thanks to the publisher, and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy. I loved it.