Praise for In Pillness and in Health: A Memoir

This is more than just a memoir about addiction. The author’s writing style, as well as what she has to say, takes this difficult topic to a whole new level.

Quick-paced and raw, it is a fresh and brilliant mix of unflinching candor as well as keen observations. Reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson, it sweeps us along with its rebellious riffing, unique and lyrical prose and wit, and comments on the dark absurdities of her reality.

It answers so many questions — from how did things get to this point, to how addiction “works” in taking over one’s identity and life — to the final question that haunted me throughout: How did this person become the author capable of writing this stunning and sober account?

A must-read for us all.

— Miriam Harris (Retired educator in the private and public education systems. Volunteer distress line responder and trainer. Avid reader.

What an amazing read! I like to compare stories like hers to a “high, inside” baseball pitch. High for the excellent quality of writing. Inside for first person POV by one who knows what they’re writing about. To continue the conceit, the story comes at you over ninety miles an hour and practically knocks you on your ass.

It’s the artful telling of this harrowing tale that sets it apart. I wish I was an agent so I could talk to the powers that be and tell them about her wonderful turns of phrases, humor in the most dire situations, and raw honesty. I wouldn’t stop talking until they agreed to publish In Pillness and in Health, because it deserves a wide audience.

— Jean Badoud-Ridell (Author and director of the writing workshop, Fictionweavers.)

Henriette’s memoir about her challenging drug addiction is, “an intentionally bitter pill to swallow." Her clever chapter headings create a fascinating armature for the narrative woven by her natural, powerful voice. Her eloquent grappling with the problems of addiction promises to raise the bar on its themes — dealing with the unknown, the monkey wrenches fate tosses into our lives, and the triumph of the human spirit — to a universal level.

— Roberta Olson (Author of Audubon's Aviary, Making it Modern and Fire in the Sky)

Compelling, inspiring, insane and hopeful.  Have you ever wondered about the inner workings of an addict’s mind? Ivanans' writing is intense, energetic, and mind reeling. Her memoir took me on a roller coaster of emotions I struggled to contain. In Pillness and in Health intertwines an addiction to pills and alcohol, and chronic illness, while navigating a marriage we wonder can survive.

This memoir had me cheering both for and against the author. I cried out in pain at the honest and transparent life of hell living as an addict. And it had me heartbroken and empathetic picturing the writer as a broken child and young woman, then wife rising to sobriety and serenity.

The writing is raw. The story is fascinating and so unique you imagine it must be fiction. But it is not. I am in awe of this woman as both an author and a person.

Do not miss out on this amazing read.

— Kim McIntyre-Leighton (C.E.O. at WASO Winnipeg, Mb.)

She's a great writer. I love that she doesn't get all tangled up in trying to be fancy. She's eloquent with her words and uses writing as a vehicle for telling a good story, restraining from excessive word-smithery. I deeply appreciate it when I don’t have to wade through a thick pool of bullshit to get into a story.

This is what stood out for me the most. Her voice. It’s very readable.

The story itself: Holy shit, man. Reading about this was tough. She captures the mania of that addict state so well. The way it overcomes and leaves you powerless. It was like peering into the curtains of a very disturbed situation—both fascinating and deeply uncomfortable to behold. This is what good writing is. It’s honest. It’s raw. It’s infuriating and heartbreaking all at once. It’s also inspiring.

— Torre DeRoche (Author of Love with a Chance of Drowning and The Worrier's Guide to the End of the World.)

Henriette Ivanans' memoir is a vivid, no-holds-barred, searing account of the Hell that is addiction. The willingness she possesses as a writer—taking us on her journey, not gratuitously, but with a passionate urgency—is beautiful. Her openness and vulnerability places this memoir in a league of its own.

Greater still, is her inspired portrait of one addict’s redemption. Redemption from the bonds of addiction into freedom.

She lets us in and what a gift it is.

— Amy Atwell (Hospice Director and adoring Mom)

Henriette Ivanans has succeeded in writing an incomparably insightful page-turner about her love affair with drugs and alcohol. In vivid language, Ivanans describes how what started as a flirtation with prescription pills turned into an all-consuming romance that eventually turned on her.

With searing honesty, she recounts her insatiable drug cravings and the depths she would go to to satisfy them. Through it all, Ivanans’ indomitable spirit shines through. And when she finally finds the courage to break away from the relationship that tried to destroy her, she glows.

—Diana Benjamin (Screenwriter, Helen and Ted)

In Pillness and in Health is a big, beautiful mess of humanity, in all its many contradictions. It’s the relentlessly meticulous post-mortem of a soul unraveled, one nerve strand at a time. It’s the hilariously glib Vaudeville of marital catastrophe, tap-dancing in the spotlight of a crumbling bedroom. It will make you angry and it will break your heart. Worst of all, it will make you care—deeply care—about a woman incapable of caring for herself.

The same manic compulsion that drove her to destroy herself with pills is the same manic compulsion that drives her to destroy herself on the page. She is acid and unsparing. It’s like watching a woman jump off a skyscraper: you can’t look away, even as she explodes on the pavement in front of you.

So why put yourself through it? Why read something so harrowing?

Because in that long, terrible fall, my god how she soars.

— Tim Rasmussen (Writer in Los Angeles. He lives with his wife Stacie, son Kent, Sweeney Dog the Demon Pupper of Flea Street, and hairless cat, Elaine Stritch.)

In Pillness and in Health is a harrowing, riveting, and courageous journey. The way Ivanans structured the memoir by the various agents of her addictions served her visceral writing style so well. Every chapter heading created a "What fresh hell is this?" moment. It's incredible that she lived to tell the tale, and that she did so with such skill, humility, and grace.

—Linda Venis (Former Director of the UCLA Writers' Extension Program and author of Inside the Room and Cut to the Chase)

I hadn’t realized how much I didn’t understand what a person who struggles with addiction goes through until I read In Pillness and In Health. Ivanans’ honest and emotional account of her struggles is heartbreaking, but important. Everyone can get something from this story of fear, strength, deception, gratitude, heartbreak, pain, and ultimately, love.

—Angela Heine (Animal lover and Mom to sweet Sylvie)

Ivanans was the winner of the Allegra Johnson Award in Memoir Writing through UCLA Writers' Extension in 2015. From L to R: Johnson, finalists Raluca Sanders and Elle Jay, Ivanans and Roberta Olson.

Ivanans was the winner of the Allegra Johnson Award in Memoir Writing through UCLA Writers' Extension in 2015. From L to R: Johnson, finalists Raluca Sanders and Elle Jay, Ivanans and Roberta Olson.