Book Review : Coming Clean
Coming Clean is a worthwhile, but not an easy read. It is the journal of Seth Haines’ first ninety days of sobriety from alcohol.
The first part was especially difficult. In the endorsements Preston Yancey writes, “Haines commands language and style so deftly the work reads like the highest literary fiction.” He writes this as a compliment but, for me, this style is not my preference. I found the writing too descriptive and not practical enough. However, as the book progressed I found it easier, perhaps his thinking became clearer as the effects of alcohol wore off.
I found it interesting that Haines was able to pinpoint the exact moment he chose to use alcohol to cope with the pain of his son’s continuing illness. As a Christian, the question then becomes why did he choose alcohol over God? Haines goes on a journey exploring the source of his pain and his reliance on other ways of coping, which is more deep-seated than he was consciously aware of.
Haines analyses his journey to sobriety very intensely and the insights he gained are valuable and beneficial. It’s complicated to particularise a healing journey. It’s often slow and difficult to explain how God works, meanwhile life happens. Haines is holding down a job as a lawyer and his son is attending medical appointments. Still, by writing this book as diary entries we gain a good understanding of his journey to sobriety. By the end of the book, he has a much closer relationship with God and is more in touch with his emotions.
Haines’ challenges his readers with their own addictions and coping mechanisms for dealing with living in a broken world. I thought this was slightly overdone, as it comes across as a way of excusing himself. However, Shauna Niequist deals with this very well in the foreword.
Although this book is heavy going at times, it is so insightful that it is worth the effort.
My next post will be three quotes from this book.