Minus One: A Twelve-step Journey
A unique combination of compelling narrative, educational fiction, and lesbian erotica, Minus One: A Twelve-Step Journey is the captivating story of Terry Manescu—a young lesbian—and her first year in Alcoholics Anonymous. Driven to AA by her abusive behavior, Terry initially resents the program and its members. At meetings, she is argumentative and foul-mouthed and often shows up wearing gay pride T-shirts. After a relapse and another episode of violence, she finally gets serious about recovery. With the help of a lesbian AA group, Terry begins to work the Twelve Steps and to address her sexual addiction. Will she be able to heal her relationships with family, lovers, and friends, and recover her self-esteem?
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Reviewed by Anna Furtado;
originally appeared in Just About Write
When we first meet Terry Manescu, in this Lambda Literary Award Finalist offering, she is truly at “Minus One” on her twelve-step journey. Out of control and out of luck, she calls her friend Angie, who comes to her aid without becoming a rescuer. With Angie’s help, Terry leaves the town where she has been living, and the woman she loves, but has hurt both emotionally and physically as a result of her addiction.
Returning to her hometown of St. Louis, Terry finds the Mississippi River a metaphor for her life. “The Mississippi’s faster than I remember…. The sides are full of twisting eddies and trash that swirls, submerges, resurfaces to spin out of control.” [pp 1-2] With this realization, Terry takes a first tentative step toward wholeness, but she doesn’t walk easily. Sometimes, she walks unsuccessfully and, often, her steps are reluctant.
Accompanying Terry through her struggle through her twelve-step program is fascinating, intriguing and surprisingly entertaining. As Terry learns to interact with old friends in a new way (without alcohol or drugs), she faces her demons with a tenacity that makes this character both real and more lovable than she perceives herself to be. Along the way, we meet others who are making the same journey, some wise, some with obvious flaws, but each of them has something to contribute to Terry’s healing. Finally, there are two more ghosts to confront—the woman she left behind on the day she hit bottom—and her fear that she will ultimately be rejected. Instead, she finds the tentative beginnings of the wholeness that she seeks.
This story ends fairly early in Terry’s recovery, but she is stronger and more whole than she or we ever thought she would be even at this stage. Her life is now filled with as much hope as there was despair when we first met her. In the course of reading this fine story, the reader is both inspired by and educated about the hardships and the triumphs of overcoming alcoholism through the struggles of one valiant woman.