Reviews & Excerpt

Reviews from


Amazing story told brilliantly, June 4, 2012
Simiemom (NYC)
Read this based on a recommendation from a friend and only put it down to take an emotional breather. The author tells her story without self-pity and a tremendous amount of hope which allows the reader to understand the dynamic behind such an extreme life style, without becoming cynical or distanced. Unlike other stories dealing with similar issues, the author speaks about the wonderful parts of living such a life…the power, money and luxury. As I read the story, which was clearly written and startlingly engaging, I was able to understand how the author found herself in such a destructive situation but at the same time, honestly believing change was possible within the confines of her situation and points of reference. This books offers a brutally honest glimpse into a world of drugs and abuse but leaves the reader with hope that such situations may be overcome with dignity and self-respect. An amazing story.


Crew Book Review, April 1, 2012
Jen Smith’s SICK is: Totally transparent, honest, and revealing! This book leads you into the scrambled world of drug addiction and the inspiring truth that recovery is possible. Jen is an inspiration and remarkable proof, that there is hope even in the darkest of circumstances. We give this book (5 Stars).


Sick by Jen Smith, March 23, 2012
Karen Doering “Parent’s Little Black Book” (Clarkston, WA USA) – Karen Bryant Doering
I have to say this book brought out emotions in me to the point where I laughed giggled, laughed aloud and finally cried and cried some more.

“Sick” is a look back at the last vestiges of the hippie movement in the 80′s. When people were still following The Grateful Dead around and being a “deadhead” was a bit of a mystic. The drugs and alcohol flowed freely at the concerts and there wasn’t anything you couldn’t buy from someone out of the back of their VW Van. Well, there was something you couldn’t buy…sobriety. That is the one thing that has to be earned in pain, suffering and determination.

This is one woman’s journey from her early days growing and selling marijuana to her heroin addiction and her spiral into an abusive relationship. It is painful, sad, frightening in its look into physical and emotional abuse and emotionally draining to read. But it is worth reading.

This is not a book that follows the rules of writing. You won’t find perfectly constructed sentences and a plot that moves from point A to point B in any kind of a structured line. It is sometimes confusing as people move in and out of the storyline without explanation of any kind. Nor does every character in some way advance the story. Dialogue sometimes runs together without regard for the rules and there are times you do have to go back a bit to figure out who exactly is speaking. It is written in the first person but occasionally slips to the third and once or twice to the second.

But still this is worth reading. More than worth reading…it is worthy of being read. It is absolutely compelling. I will read this again and recommend it to anyone who wants a story that captivates while telling the truth in a bold and open manner.

Jen, thank you for telling us your story.


very heartwrenching!, July 2, 2012
Sick is a book about how far life can spiral out of control before you even realize what is happening. Jen Smith does an excellent job bringing you into her world of sex, drugs, and grateful dead. From the moment I started reading I felt like I too was on drugs. Jen starts one trail of thought which lends itself to a whole other story. Jen was brutally honest with choices that were made and the life she led. I had a harder time reading once Bubby is born. Although Jen points out how Greg’s behavior affected Bubby, I did not feel she was as forthcoming with how her own choices and behaviors affected her son. I would love to know what happens after the police arrive. Maybe a sequel? I would definitely recommend this book!



Excerpt from SICK: The Econoline 150


It was morning when I was climbing the Nevada side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the Lake Tahoe area.  All of a sudden there was a police car behind me flashing its lights.  I didn’t think I was speeding but maybe I was.  I pulled over and the cop walked up alongside the van.

“Hello sir,” I said.  I knew to be respectful and courteous to cops always; this helped give off the impression that I was the type of person who would never consider breaking the law.

“Do you know why I pulled you over, young lady?”  This cop looked like a decent guy.

“No sir, I have no idea.”

“You don’t have a license plate on the back of your van.”  I’m sure my complete look of shock convinced him that I had no idea the license plate was gone, and I really had no idea. Next he asked me if I would like to get out and take a look.  As I strolled around to the back of the van I was stopped in my tracks.  The entire spare tire was gone.  This van had a spare tire covered by a custom casing that matched the van and in the center of the casing was the license plate.

“Oh my gosh!  The entire spare tire and casing is gone!”  And I proceeded to describe to the police office what was supposed to be there.  Next the officer asked me for my license and registration.  I knew my privilege to operate a motor vehicle had been revoked by the state of Rhode Island, the state of Vermont, and, although I didn’t know it yet at this time, the state of Pennsylvania, but I still had the actual license card. Of course I was supposed to have turned my license card in when it was suspended but that wasn’t going to happen.  I got out my license, registration, and insurance for the very nice officer and he went back over to his vehicle to call it in.

“Young lady, do you know that your license is suspended?”  Another completely shocked look on my face as believable as the real one convinced him that I had no idea.  I asked him why with distress on my face, knowing that he wouldn’t have that information.

“Sir, are you telling me that I drove across the entire United States with a suspended license?”  I asked in complete disbelief.  This cop was completely buying my young and innocent facade and I could tell he didn’t quite know what to do with me.  He went back to his car for a few moments, then came back.

“When you get to Lake Tahoe,” (I had told him I was headed to a friend’s house in Lake Tahoe before heading on to school in Sacramento), “I want you to get this straightened out.”

“Should I put my front license plate on the back sir?”

“No, you’re almost in Lake Tahoe. If you get stopped again just give them this warning ticket,” and off he went.  Later that day I was in my new hometown, three hours north of Lake Tahoe, on my way to my landlord’s house to get the keys to my new pad.

I pulled up in front of my landlord’s house in the yellow Econonline 150 van.  Getting the keys was a big moment.  I had never lived in a place so beautiful or in a house so big ever in my life.  JJ smiled a beautiful doggie smile at me as he hung his head out of the passenger side window. I strolled up the front walkway and I rang the doorbell. The landlord promptly opened the door with his small son beside him.

“Hi, I have the keys right here for you.”  He was expecting me.  “Give me a moment, they’re on the counter.” Then he disappeared from sight leaving his son standing there.  The little kid started pointing out to the street and then calmly spoke to me.

“Your van is on fire.”  His words were spoken so calmly it didn’t register what he was saying.  “Your van is on fire,” he said again.  I turned around and huge puffs of black billowing smoke were coming out of the front engine.  JJ was frantically moving back and forth in the passenger seat.  There was nowhere for him to go with all of the stuff in the back of the van.  I instinctively ran top-speed to the van and opened up the passenger door.  JJ jumped out and as he was in mid-air jumping from the passenger seat to the ground below, the billowing black smoke burst into flames!  The whole thing seemed like it was happening in slow motion.  The time between the passenger door opening and JJ landing on the ground below seemed endless.  JJ and I stood on the grass a safe distance away and watched as our temporary home on wheels crackled from the heat of the flames and turned black with soot.  The landlord came from around the side of the house with a garden hose, but it was futile.  The flames and smoke rose higher than the two-story house.  In another few moments I could hear the distant screaming of fire engine sirens.  Soon the firemen were putting out the fire and the whole thing was over.  JJ and I were still sitting on the grass in disbelief of what had just happened before our eyes.

About one-third of the back end on the van was still recognizable.  The landlord was very helpful in getting me to move along and figure out what the hell I was supposed to do next.  I was tired and burnt out from the drive and the Dead shows in Vegas.  He asked me if I had any money to rent a car.  I wasn’t sure, I had money stashed here and there in the van but it didn’t look too promising.  With persuasion from the landlord, I got up from the grass, walked over to what was left of the van, and started picking through the remnants to see what might be salvaged.  I had a large chunk of cash in the pocket of a brown leather coat that was hanging on the back of the passenger seat.  The coat had been burned about two-thirds of the way and then stopped right at the pocket.  I reached in and pulled out the cash.

“I have money to rent a car, but no license.  The purse I had my wallet in burnt to a crisp.”  Actually I still had my license in my back pocket from being pulled over but a suspended license wasn’t going to get me a rental car so I figured it was better to just say it had been burnt.  That ended up being the right thing to say because the landlord took me over to the car rental place and rented a car for me.

I promised I would come back tomorrow to clean up the burnt mess on the street in front of his house but really just needed to go home and process what had just happened.  He was cool with that and I made my way to my new home.  I had nothing and just slept on the floor with JJ that night but it was the best night’s sleep I had gotten in a while.  The mountain home was peaceful and I loved it.