Needless to say ... it’s harrowing—especially when you note that nearly the entirety of Cavanagh’s tale—from discovery to a leave-us-hanging resolution—takes place in a short three-year period. That can result in a story-pace that may leave a reader wrung out although, because it’s a lot of in-and-out-of-rehab rehashing, it can also seem repetitive. Kindred spirits, however, will fully appreciate Cavanagh’s stellar job in reassuring parents via her narrative that there is no shame in reaching out for help or support ... This book deserves its spot on a growing list of books on addiction, just as it deserves to be on your bookshelf if you have a loved one with substance abuse problems. In that case, and if you need the comfort, you may want to reach for If You Love Me first.
Realizing that none of [her] articles of faith are true—that, in fact, the disease of addiction is more powerful than even the very strongest parent-child bond—is the essence of Cavanagh’s maternal 'journey,' which will offer readers facing similar struggles some useful information and, above all, the comfort of knowing that they are not alone. (Readers seeking something beyond emotional community, however, will find a much more satisfying reading experience in strongly reported books like Maia Szalavitz’s Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction or Paul Raeburn’s Acquainted With the Night: A Parent’s Quest to Understand Depression and Bipolar Disorder in His Children.)
Cavanagh’s writing is honest and straightforward, her pace fast and tone foreboding; all this makes for a page-turner that puts readers beside her on the emotional roller coaster that dealing with a loved one’s substance abuse is. Perfect for readers anticipating the upcoming film Beautiful Boy, based on David Sheff’s bestselling 2007 memoir.