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A Clean Heart: A Novel (Alcoholism, Dysfunctional Family, Recovery, Redemption, 12-Steps)

A Clean Heart: A Novel (Alcoholism, Dysfunctional Family, Recovery, Redemption, 12-Steps)

by John Rosengren, ,

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A Novel of Redemption from Addiction and a Broken Family

A Clean Heart picks at the knot of addiction and recovery insistently and with a wholesomeness intriguingly at odds with its subject. I enjoyed this book.” –Thomas Beller, author of The Sleep-Over Artist

Carter Kirchner struggles to stay sane and sober as a counselor at Six West, an adolescent drug treatment center run by Sister Mary Xavier, a hard-drinking nun with an MBA. The young Kirchner is caught between Sister Mary’s plan to rescue the center by reforming a hard-case kid and the dysfunctional staff’s clumsy plan to intervene on their boss’s drinking. Meanwhile, Carter’s mother―who never forgave him for giving up a promising hockey career to treat his own addiction―lands in the hospital with an advanced case of cirrhosis. Before Carter can help the young addict commissioned to his care or safely navigate the staff’s dysfunctional intervention effort, he must rescue himself from his family’s broken past.

A Clean Heart is a novel by John Rosengren, a writer and recent nominee for a Pulitzer Prize who knows the territory of addiction. He went through treatment at age 17 and has been clean and sober since 1981. He also worked in adolescent treatment centers when he was younger. John Rosengren’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications, including The Atlantic, New Yorker, Reader’s Digest, Sports Illustrated, and Utne Reader.

If you are a fan of the 2018 films Ben is Back or David Sheff’s Beautiful Boy or have read addiction memoirs such as If You Love Me or We All Fall Down, you will love reading John Rosengren’s A Clean Heart.

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  • John Rosengren

    I am a Pulitzer Prize nominee and winner of the Donald Robinson Award for Investigative Journalism along with about 20 other awards. I have published nine books and hundreds of magazine articles in publications such as The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Reader's Digest, Sports Illustrated, and The Washington Post Magazine.

    My work has been anthologized alongside that of Maya Angelou, Marlon James, Bill Moyers, George Saunders, and Meg Wolitzer.

    The movie and TV rights for one of my books, "BLADES OF GLORY: The True Story of a Young Team Bred to Win," have been optioned three times by different Hollywood production companies, including Milo Ventimiglia's.

    I once interviewed a woman shot by hijackers and left for dead on the tarmac.

    I raced my bike against Greg LeMond in South Africa (and beat him). I played a tennis match against the world’s top-ranked wheelchair tennis player (and lost). I channeled a 330-pound, Samoan, retired NFL nose tackle who is gay (Esera Tuaolo, for his memoir). I played softball on snowshoes in the summertime (wood chips spread across the infield). I rapped a base hit off former Twins pitcher Rick Aguilera.

    I listened to a nurse tell me the story of prying a shotgun shell out of Ernest Hemingway’s hand when he was intent upon killing himself. I profiled a woman who is a Roman Catholic priest. I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with LGBTQ Native Americans. I interviewed a mortician in the room where she embalmed my father. I interviewed a 15-year-old boy in his hospital room after he tried to stop a school shooter.

    All in a few days' work, stretching back to 1981, when I began freelancing as a senior in high school, same time I got clean and sober. I was an English major at Saint John's University, mentored by J. F. Powers. I earned my master's in creative writing at Boston University, where I studied with Derek Walcott and Saul Bellow.

    Along the way, I have lived in Boise, Boston, Florence, London, Paris, and St. Paul. Today I'm at home in my native Minneapolis with my wife Maria, our two children, and a golden retriever named Maya.