Recovered addicts live their entire lives feeling guilty, overwhelmed and ashamed of their past.
It has to be hard for the addict not to get depressed when dwelling on these dark emotions. Imagine what kind of world we would live in, what kind of help people might get, the kind of change that might happen, what kind of healing… if we all so openly shared our life’s struggles as well as the lessons learned.
But author Chu Nwagbogu has no problem confronting his shame and sharing his personal stories. His vulnerability shines through every word in Light Does Not Need A Chain.
Chu Nwagbogu’s book in bite-sized essays stands with one foot in inspirational writing and the other in memoir. With a subtitle that includes the word cathartic, you might think that Nwagbogu’s book will be a struggle but it is simply digestible.
The book is confessional and tells a story so personal that it reminds us that only those on the inside can empathise and attempt to understand what life is really like as an addict.
The themes and feelings take the reader through the struggles that show up in his daily life as he traces his many roles: from child to student to an addict, to his long walk of freedom.
Nwagbogu’s parents play a prominent role in many of the essays and the reader gets glimpses into their lives and sees their influence in different ways: Mr Blanket, filling station incident, driving lessons, struggle to be free from substance use, an asthma attack, the choice of wearing a chain.
In “Failure”, he is unsure why his mum slapped him on the face after being involved in an accident, but his sister is sure. Nwagbogu senses his parents are passing a legacy of character and faith to him.
The author uses humour to attract the reader’s attention and bond with them. This is with the fine blend of lessons when describing people, relationships, places, traumatic experiences and making difficult-to-swallow advice easy to take.
Also, the author balances moments of happiness with moments of sadness. Nwagbogu pays affecting tribute to the life of his seatmate at a training course and that of a friend, both now gone, but the lessons they taught him in life will serve him well for many years to come.
Nwagbogu’s acknowledges his lecturer that shaped his experience as he pursued his undergraduate degree. The professor invites him into a world where you can make bad situations better. It is here that the author discovered that every situation offers a learning opportunity and one can decide how to deal with it most effectively and take action.
Throughout, Nwagbogu cannot stop emphasising the fact that past experiences have an impact on how we view life. But as beautifully as Nwagbogu describes his experiences, he does not have a gift for spilling the beans.
His book is restrained, skipping the best parts of some of his stories and leaving readers wanting more. Maybe he is trying to hold on to something not easily understood or is choosing privacy over full disclosure.
Sometimes we need a steady reminder that being vulnerable helps us to be courageous; we are no longer afraid of what others will think. You are being true to who you are, even in a world where shaming has become rampant.
Book Title: Light Does Not Need A Chain
Authors: Chu Nwagbogu
Publisher: Narrative Landscape
Year of Publication: 2020
Number of Pages: 112
About the reviewer
Titilade Oyemade is a business executive in a leading organisation and holds a degree in the Russian Language. She’s the convener of the Hangoutwithtee Ladies Event and the publisher of Hangoutwithtee magazine. She spends her weekends attending women conferences, events and book readings. She loves to have fun and to help other women have the same in their lives. Email: [email protected] Social: @tiipree