Long Bright River is a tale of two sides of Philadelphia’s opioid crisis – the side that cannot understand why one would get hooked and the side that struggles to get out. If you have not been affected by this country’s rampant opioid issue, this book will shed some light on the issue for the reader.
Kacey and Mickey are sisters, one addicted and living on the streets while the other a Philadelphia police officer and single parent. When local female addicts and prostitutes start turning up dead, Mickey starts to worry about her sister. She hasn’t seen Kacey in a while on her usual streets and decides to go looking for her in the dark and unpredictable world of drugs, prostitutes, and corruption. Mickey risks her job as a police officers, her friendship with her former partner, the welfare of her son, and the ability to reach her sister. During her search for Kacey, Mickey learns more about her neighbor, her family, and her coworkers. Some of it is a welcome surprise, some of it is just disturbing and disheartening. The reader is in for an emotional rollercoaster ride into Mickey and Kacey’s heart-wrenching childhood and strenuous adult lives.
This book is masterfully told, researched, and edited. Liz Moore alternates between present-day and Mickey’s childhood to give the reader vivid images and feel her repeated let-downs in life. Mickey’s need to look out for her sister, no matter what she is involved in or what she has to risk, shows that family has undeniable bonds. No matter how long they are apart or how differently they live, father, daughter, sister, mother are all connected and rely on each other for salvation in the end. The story also shows that addiction has many forms (drugs, power, money, sex, work) and affects people differently, so treatment if any is possible will be entirely different for each person. As heart-wrenching and haunting as this book can be, it is worth every high and low that it will take you on.