A House on Stilts
Finalist, 2020 Washington State Book Awards
“Really brilliant. I often feel that addiction lies right outside in this way. This is a remarkable book. And an utterly terrifying one.”—Andrew Solomon, author, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity
“A House on Stilts is the story of a family just like yours perhaps, or the family next door. Through raw and authentic expression, we come to share in this mother’s loss of dreams for her addicted son. Paula Becker deftly shows how addiction can happen to anyone.”—D’Anne Burwell, author, Saving Jake: When Addiction Hits Home
“Paula Becker pulls back the curtain and shows us what is typically only whispered about: the opioid crisis among young, white privileged kids and the effect on their middle-class families. Becker, in a fashion true to her historian roots, digs into the opioid crisis that is leaving no demographic untouched, and also digs into her past, looking at her parenting for clues and wrong turns along the route to her son’s teenage years. Ultimately, what she writes is an elegy for Hunter, who she finally realizes had been walking his own path all along.”—Kate Carroll De Gutes, author, Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
A House on Stilts tells the story of one woman’s struggle to reclaim wholeness while mothering a son addicted to opioids. Paula Becker’s son Hunter was raised in a safe, nurturing home by his writer/historian mom and his physician father. He was a bright, curious child. And yet, addiction found him.
More than 2.5 million Americans are addicted to opioids, some half-million of these to heroin. For many of them, their drug addiction leads to lives of demoralization, homelessness, and constant peril. For parents, a child’s addiction upends family life, catapulting them onto a path no longer prescribed by Dr. Spock, but by Dante’s Inferno. Within this ten-year crucible, Paula is transformed by an excruciating, inescapable truth: the difference between what she can do and what she cannot do.