The book starts out with the thrill of an early Bret Easton Ellis novel — except Khar’s characters aren’t nihilists. She provides a voyeuristic look into her mid-80s world of prep schools and famous L.A. rock clubs; into her life as the cool rich girl with her older boyfriend and Guess jeans ... Though it may not mirror that standard narrative of our national opioid epidemic, Khar’s story nonetheless illustrates many essential facets of addiction ... Khar’s specificity in reliving her first-person experience shows the intricacy and cunning that are required of an addict ... Khar’s voice can take on a certain glibness, prone to simplifying complex situations into a few trite words ... Some amount of brevity is needed to usher along the narrative, but at times here it feels careless ... As is the responsibility of anyone publishing a memoir of upper-crust life, Khar acknowledges how good she has had it. But there are faults by omission, namely in her attribution of her sobriety to the birth of her son ... Khar admits, 'Maybe I won the lottery,' but neglects to cite her ability to afford the multiple trips to expensive rehabs, parents who love her imperfectly yet consistently, her access to housing and higher education and employment. The result feels like a pre-emptive apology, at once glossed over and heavy-handed ... Still, there is more to admire than not. Khar’s buoyant writing doesn’t get mired in her dark subject matter. There is an honesty here that can only come from, to put it in the language of 12-step programs, a 'searching and fearless moral inventory.' This is a story she needed to tell; and the rest of the country needs to listen.
... a compassionate account of [Khar's] illness and will surely be the gold standard for women writing about heroin addiction ... In lesser hands, Strung Out could read like a 'poor little rich girl' tale. To be sure, there are moments in the book that are frustrating due to how out of line Khar's experience is with most Americans’ reality (she attends rehab with celebrities, and moves to Paris on a whim). But Khar possesses the necessary self-reflection to identify the points in her life—breakups, deaths, an abortion—where her shame and loneliness deepened and her addiction metastasized. She is also cognizant of and candid about how her parents’ wealth and passing as white (she is half Persian) contributed to her successful recovery ... While heroin is considered a line that shouldn’t be crossed by many recreational drug users, Khar’s story of choosing to numb-out pain, and the coffin-like trap of shame, is relatable to everyone. Anyone who reads Strung Out will come away with a better understanding of opioid addiction, if not necessarily more empathy for it.
... deeply confessional ... Now that she has gained some distance from her addiction, Khar is able to describe her behavior with refreshing perspective, and she is candid throughout, especially about how she continually drew people into her dangerous orbit before spontaneously pushing them away. While not as blisteringly shocking as some addiction memoirs, this contemporary take on an unfortunately too-common experience is eye-opening and relevant, especially as we continue to witness the escalation of the opioid epidemic ... A necessarily honest and emotional account that ends in earned redemption.