As a child in 1980s, Chicago Willie stole to help feed his brothers, sister, and himself. In grade school his teacher told him to have his parents help him with his homework, but his mother, the only parent around, didn’t know how. As a young man Willie started smoking pot, which easily turned into harder drugs. This eventually led Willie to a life under someone’s front porch, two prison sentences, numerous trips to jail, and various recovery programs.
Living in the House of Drugs is the story of Willie Lee Triplett, a recovering addict and alcoholic. It tells of Willie’s life in the suburbs of one of Chicago’s poorer neighborhoods, his chance trip to Wisconsin, and his struggle for sobriety. It’s a no-holds-barred account of Willie’s life on the street, in prison, and the roller coaster ride of recovery that many addicts know well. The story is unique in its telling, following not only Willie’s interesting life story but also the author’s interactions with Willie as she learns of his sometimes sorted past, seeing beyond the story and into the man.
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Linda: This is a true story about a Wisconsin man who has cycled through the prison system for most of his adult life because of addictions. Christine Keleny has done a remarkable job telling Willie Triplett’s story, not just because she’s a good writer, but because she is able to bring understanding and compassion to a very difficult subject. Willie is the kind of person we love to hate – uneducated, drug addict, offender, homeless person – but Christine has reached down, past all those labels, to expose his humanity.
Lorna: I have read many memoirs and this one is, by far, the most…well…memorable. Willie wants the world to know his story, maybe so he can clear his conscience or maybe so he can help others avoid the mistakes he made. But Willie has a big problem. He can barely tell his story in proper English, let alone write it down.
Enter Christine Keleny, author and compassionate soul. She spends countless hours with Willie to decipher his attempts at his own notes and listens to his stories. The result is this incredible book, which is a true collaboration between a lost soul trying to find his way and an insightful, skilled writer able to present Willie’s life to us in his unique “Willie” voice.