Rating: 3 out of 5.
unraveled book cover

Laura Cook Boldt and Thomas H. Boldt, 2021

Thomas Henry Boldt is a son, brother, athlete, and business owner. He has travelled the path to addiction and returned to sobriety. His mother Laura Cook Boldt has been down the same path. Unraveled is their story.

Tom was born into a life of privilege – loving two-parent household, prep school, debutante balls, family ski trips, competitive skiing and snowboarding. It looks great from the outside, but from Tom’s daily humiliation at the hands of prep school bullies to his spiraling drug addiction, life only gets more difficult.

Tom tells the harrowing – and riveting – story of his abuse at prep school with feeling, and he does the same when describing the transcendence of skiing and snowboarding.  When detailing his long litany of drug-influenced exploits, he sounds like he’s in a confessional.  Maybe that’s what Tom needed to do – just get it out – and it’s not a bad narrative; just flat. It still works.  Laura’s voice, interspersed throughout, provides perspective and insight into Tom’s behavior as she shares her concern and love for Tom. She also wonders aloud what actions of hers might have contributed to Tom’s addiction, in an expression of parental guilt and self-doubt that rings true.

Although this book is not a dialogue between two people, the alternating first-person narrators use their mother-son dynamic effectively. Each narrator’s role evolves as Tom’s independence grows; Laura’s maternal role naturally and gradually shifts from in-charge caretaker to steadfast supporter and advocate.

Then toward the end of the book, something beautiful happens: the two narratives are so in tune with each other that adult, sober Tom is sharing on the same level as his mother as each discusses their personal understanding of redemption, gratitude, and God.

Some thoughts on narration of this audiobook: Linda Jones is the perfect choice to be the voice of Laura.  Her voice is that of a concerned mother. Will Tulin as Tom – not so much.  It was difficult to get past the fact that a snowboarder is speaking with the voice of a newscaster who sounds like he’s twenty years older. Oddly, as the ‘voices’ of Tom and Laura converge, the narrator’s voice seems to work toward the end of the story as well.  I wonder if that’s because now, Tom is no longer thirteen – or if I just got used to it.

Mothers everywhere and readers of James Frey’s notorious memoir/novel A Million Little Pieces will appreciate this story.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an Advance Reader Copy,  given in exchange for my honest review. 

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