counter Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post-Punk, from the Middle East to the Lower East Side - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post-Punk, from the Middle East to the Lower East Side

Availability: Ready to download

“It is my honor to introduce these pages—so gravelly, so straggly, so hopeful, bright, and true.”  —Elizabeth Gilbert When she was seven, Rayya Elias and her family fled the political conflict in their native Syria, settling in Detroit. Bullied in school and caught between the world of her traditional family and her tough American classmates, she rebelled early. Elias mov “It is my honor to introduce these pages—so gravelly, so straggly, so hopeful, bright, and true.”  —Elizabeth Gilbert When she was seven, Rayya Elias and her family fled the political conflict in their native Syria, settling in Detroit. Bullied in school and caught between the world of her traditional family and her tough American classmates, she rebelled early. Elias moved to New York City to become a musician and kept herself afloat with an uncommon talent for cutting hair. At the height of the punk movement, life on the Lower East Side was full of adventure, creative inspiration, and temptation. Eventually, Elias’s passionate affairs with lovers of both sexes went awry, her (more than) occasional drug use turned to addiction, and she found herself living on the streets—between her visits to jail. This debut memoir charts four decades of a life lived in the moment, a path from harrowing loss and darkness to a place of peace and redemption. Elias’s wit and lack of self-pity in the face of her extreme highs and lows make Harley Loco a powerful read that’s sure to appeal to fans of Patti Smith, Augusten Burroughs, and Eleanor Henderson.


Compare

“It is my honor to introduce these pages—so gravelly, so straggly, so hopeful, bright, and true.”  —Elizabeth Gilbert When she was seven, Rayya Elias and her family fled the political conflict in their native Syria, settling in Detroit. Bullied in school and caught between the world of her traditional family and her tough American classmates, she rebelled early. Elias mov “It is my honor to introduce these pages—so gravelly, so straggly, so hopeful, bright, and true.”  —Elizabeth Gilbert When she was seven, Rayya Elias and her family fled the political conflict in their native Syria, settling in Detroit. Bullied in school and caught between the world of her traditional family and her tough American classmates, she rebelled early. Elias moved to New York City to become a musician and kept herself afloat with an uncommon talent for cutting hair. At the height of the punk movement, life on the Lower East Side was full of adventure, creative inspiration, and temptation. Eventually, Elias’s passionate affairs with lovers of both sexes went awry, her (more than) occasional drug use turned to addiction, and she found herself living on the streets—between her visits to jail. This debut memoir charts four decades of a life lived in the moment, a path from harrowing loss and darkness to a place of peace and redemption. Elias’s wit and lack of self-pity in the face of her extreme highs and lows make Harley Loco a powerful read that’s sure to appeal to fans of Patti Smith, Augusten Burroughs, and Eleanor Henderson.

30 review for Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post-Punk, from the Middle East to the Lower East Side

  1. 5 out of 5

    Magdelanye

    DISCLAIMER It happened just like this. Or sort of like this,with different people and maybe the order of things is scrambled. Certainly nothing happened as clearly as described. This is a memoir,for fucks sake,and that word obviously derives from the word memory. Even the most meticulous observer experiences lapses in memory;and everybody knows a junky is not the most meticulous,or reliable,of observers. But Rayya Elias tries so hard to be just that. "This is my truth,and it may not be pretty,but I own DISCLAIMER It happened just like this. Or sort of like this,with different people and maybe the order of things is scrambled. Certainly nothing happened as clearly as described. This is a memoir,for fucks sake,and that word obviously derives from the word memory. Even the most meticulous observer experiences lapses in memory;and everybody knows a junky is not the most meticulous,or reliable,of observers. But Rayya Elias tries so hard to be just that. "This is my truth,and it may not be pretty,but I own it" she states in the acknowledgements. Born in Syria,reborn in Detroit,Rayya has the perrennial outsiders curse. Not only does she want to be accepted,she wants to shine. Ambitious,gifted,wagging her tail all the way to the top of her game,she somehow remains undaunted,throughout the harrowing,bumpy ride down (described in casual but intricate detail), an innocent,especially in her own eyes. No self pity there,more than a touch of self righteousness. HARLEY LOCO is the story of how such a much loved,basically decent and compassionate person came to be"using,abusing,and exploiting every person (she) knew..." just to score. RE's addiction was more to chaos than any particular drug;she loved them all. At a critical juncture in her longest ever attempt to stay 'clean',she admits to herself, on p295 "I wanted a bag of dope more than just about anything. I wanted that warm,comfortable feeling I had only ever gotten from drugs,even if only for a moment." But it is intensity that she craves the most,and it is only when,at the end of the book,she has accepted that life can be dull and mundane and still offer excitement,that we get the impression that she has been able to apply the things that she learned from her experiences.Good on ya, Rayya. I am listening to some of her music as I write this,and some of it I quite like.And I do like her,somewhat,she seems to depend on it.But RE and I are not on the same wavelength,and while several times throughout her narrative it seems as if she is developing a social conscience,I am not sure if her new life as a real estate agent allows her much time to dwell on it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    When I was first asked to review HARLEY LOCO, I wasn't sure how I would fancy it since it's a bit out of my ordinary reading zone. However, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the writing style and over all story. It's a different voice than I'm used to and I'm glad I've had the chance to read it. Rayya is a natural storyteller, with a voice that reels you in. She takes us on a ride through her life as a "rough diamond", (as quoted by her friend Elizabeth Gilbert) w When I was first asked to review HARLEY LOCO, I wasn't sure how I would fancy it since it's a bit out of my ordinary reading zone. However, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the writing style and over all story. It's a different voice than I'm used to and I'm glad I've had the chance to read it. Rayya is a natural storyteller, with a voice that reels you in. She takes us on a ride through her life as a "rough diamond", (as quoted by her friend Elizabeth Gilbert) where she experienced the highs and definitely the lows in her life. She didn't hold back anything, from her childhood, drug addiction, sexuality or dreams. She truly lived the life of a rock star. I have to admit, it's not an easy read, with such devastation and heartbreak. Nevertheless, it's inspiring story of a woman that finds her way through the dark, and comes out into the light. I was especially engrossed in the story come the last few chapters. Her overwhelming emotion and strength is uplifting and I congratulate her on being clean since 1997. She truly is a strong, inspirational woman and I highly recommend this read, whether you read memoirs or not. You won't be disappointed.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Once again, a big shout out to the Reading Room for my review copy of this book. I rarely read memoir, as most of the time I find it either dull or heavy on the misery/shock value. Fortunately, Rayya Elias's memoir, Harley Loco is neither of these things, which makes (for me, anyway,) interesting reading. With Harley Loco, the reader is taken through the author's early childhood in Syria, her family's transition to America and the long and wild journey that Elias makes to first discover and accep Once again, a big shout out to the Reading Room for my review copy of this book. I rarely read memoir, as most of the time I find it either dull or heavy on the misery/shock value. Fortunately, Rayya Elias's memoir, Harley Loco is neither of these things, which makes (for me, anyway,) interesting reading. With Harley Loco, the reader is taken through the author's early childhood in Syria, her family's transition to America and the long and wild journey that Elias makes to first discover and accept her sexuality and then to overcome drug addiction. Bullied at school, she takes things into her own hands and moves to New York as a young woman to work as a hairdresser where she slowly frees herself to explore her sexuality away from her family. She also begins to experiment with drugs and with music. Over the years, she experiences everything from infatuation, to homelessness and eventually, prison. What I loved about Harley Loco is rather than asking for sympathy or pointing the finger at others, Elias takes full responsibility for her past, her actions and her choices in life. The memoir itself is written in an easy to read conversational style.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sian Lile-Pastore

    i'm pretty amazed by this, which i've just read in a day, unable to stop myself. In the main it's about drug addiction and getting clean, but it's also about other things... loneliness, cutting hair, being gay, being different, not fitting in and 80s new york (which I never tire of reading about). it's got a warmth and immediacy to it and i particularly liked the beginning where she writes about her parents first meeting and her childhood in syria. towards the end it gets a little hard going, wha i'm pretty amazed by this, which i've just read in a day, unable to stop myself. In the main it's about drug addiction and getting clean, but it's also about other things... loneliness, cutting hair, being gay, being different, not fitting in and 80s new york (which I never tire of reading about). it's got a warmth and immediacy to it and i particularly liked the beginning where she writes about her parents first meeting and her childhood in syria. towards the end it gets a little hard going, what with the big time drug addiction, rehab and relapsing and all of that, but it's good, and Elizabeth Gilbert wrote the introduction which is also good and I would imagine make loads of people read this awesome book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    Harley Loco grabbed me my the hair in the first two pages and didn't let go. I was completely engrossed, not only because I know Rayya Elias, but because her (mis)adventures in NYC are at once jaw-dropping, exhilarating, and heartbreaking. Brave, unvarnished, and sometimes just plain crazy, Harley Loco is quite a ride.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Barbikat60

    Parallel lives. As I read this riveting memoir, my thoughts went back to the years that I was running the streets as Rayya Elias. I keep wondering if our paths crossed as we went on our missions in and around the Lower East Side. Time softens memories and as I moved away from the drugging and finally the drinking, I forgot how whacked out of my mind I was and how I lived in squalor like it was a normal thing to do. I had a hard time in school until I lost my mind like Rayya did when she was in R Parallel lives. As I read this riveting memoir, my thoughts went back to the years that I was running the streets as Rayya Elias. I keep wondering if our paths crossed as we went on our missions in and around the Lower East Side. Time softens memories and as I moved away from the drugging and finally the drinking, I forgot how whacked out of my mind I was and how I lived in squalor like it was a normal thing to do. I had a hard time in school until I lost my mind like Rayya did when she was in Rikers. We did the same thing!!!! Hard boots to somebody's chest. I didn't find my way to "happiness" until I fell in with the white druggie kids in my town. Reading Rayya's book made me want to shake her and say "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?" Looking back, I know people tried to do the same thing to me. Rayya and I are the same age and now we are in our fifties, clean, sober and carrying on. I never would have thought I'd be in such a good place in my life right now. As I read Harley Loco on the bus last night, I burst into tears, I cried for Rayya, I cried for myself, I cried for all of us damaged angels who couldn't find ourselves because we were too deep in the rabbit hole. If you want to know what is was like to be a junkie in the late eighties and early nineties, it's all here. I can sincerely say that being that I was there as well. It's better to read it than to live it, I'll tell you that much and Rayya tells a story that is stark, true and brutal. If you are in recovery, I would suggest that you go to meetings and stay close to your sober support because this book is loaded with triggers. I kid you not. If your recovery game is not on point, you're risking a relapse by reading this book. Read it, but just make sure you see everything for what it is and if it brings up anything for you, bring to a meeting and talk about it. There is so much more to this memoir than Rayya's drug use but I was mainly drawn to what I related to. Her life is much more complicated than just her drug use and it really helps describe the multi faceted person that Ms. Elias is. I recommend this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alice Dinizo

    Rayya Elias fled Syria with her family in the 1960's and the Eliases settled in Detroit where they felt comfortable in the large community of Syrian refugees residing there.But as Rayya tells the reader in this well-written, readable and totally absorbing memoir, she became the victim of bullies in her school, and by seventh grade, had decided to rebel. Sadly, the years in which she did so were the wild years of the 1970's and 1980's. She wanted desperately to become a musician but also finds sh Rayya Elias fled Syria with her family in the 1960's and the Eliases settled in Detroit where they felt comfortable in the large community of Syrian refugees residing there.But as Rayya tells the reader in this well-written, readable and totally absorbing memoir, she became the victim of bullies in her school, and by seventh grade, had decided to rebel. Sadly, the years in which she did so were the wild years of the 1970's and 1980's. She wanted desperately to become a musician but also finds she had a terrific talent as a hair stylist.Moving to New York City,Rayya had lovers of both sexes, continued cutting hair and attempting to enter the world of music.She used drugs and alcohol to excess and on page 228 of "Harley Loco", she admits "I had been shooting heroin and cocaine into my veins every twenty minutes, sometimes around the clock. At thirty years old, I hadn't been off drugs and alcohol for forty-five straight days since I was eleven." Nicknamed "Harley Loco" when she served time on Riker's Island because she was crazy and wore trademark Harley Davidson boots,Rayya Elias, now clean since 1997, tells with brutal, brilliant honesty of her endless fights with her addiction to narcotics and of how she came to accept herself as she is today, a Syrian lesbian who is an ex-junkie,ex-con, Detriot tough woman of great talents and heart.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I did not know what to expect from this book. To be honest this is not typically the type of book that is usually at the top of my reading genre list. However I want to expand my reading spectrum. Also, the title of the book is what did have me a little intrigued…Harley Loco: A Memoir of Living, Hair, and Post-Punk from the Middle East to the Lower East Side. I am the total opposite of Rayya. I never went through a rebellious stage nor have I really been into the punk music. So I guess you could I did not know what to expect from this book. To be honest this is not typically the type of book that is usually at the top of my reading genre list. However I want to expand my reading spectrum. Also, the title of the book is what did have me a little intrigued…Harley Loco: A Memoir of Living, Hair, and Post-Punk from the Middle East to the Lower East Side. I am the total opposite of Rayya. I never went through a rebellious stage nor have I really been into the punk music. So I guess you could say I wanted to live vicariously through Rayya. Well I can tell you that I not only got to see what Rayya went through but it was like a slap in the face in a good way. It felt like Rayya did not hold anything back in this book. She shared lots of details about her life from the good to the bad. From leaving Syria to moving to Detroit with her family, watching All My Children to learn English, cutting hair, getting into music, and drugs. At the end of the book it states that Rayya has been clean since August 8, 1997. I congratulate her on being clean and her success.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lunds&byerly

    Was interested in hearing more about the recovery, but the brutal desperation of addiction had center stage in this memoir. Might be unfair to rate it low because it was choppy, frenetic, and depressing...it's a memoir about her years of addiction and self harm, after all. Five stars and tons of respect to Rayya for finding a way to live and love with clarity/sobriety.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lander Van Der Biest

    There's an emotional and harsh story here but you'll have to find it under the insane amount of drugs.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    The beginning of the book grabbed me. I enjoyed reading about her move from Syria and transition to the US. The end of the book was also good but the middle......rinse and repeat over and over with the romantic encounters, broken relationships, drugs, rehab. It is a true story, so it is what it is but at some point as a reader you just tire of the repeat scenarios and the revolving door of Characters.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    A wild memoir by a Syrian immigrant/punk musician/lesbian/addict/hair stylist, set (mostly) in NYC circa the 80s/90s. The author passed away a year ago, and I decided to read this book after listening to the GUT WRENCHING story on the Moth podcast by the her widow (who happens to be Elizabeth Gilbert? author of Eat Pray Love? this was all surprising news to me!) on the year anniversary of her death. I wasn't rly sure what to expect of this book, but I decided to give it a try because Rayya seeme A wild memoir by a Syrian immigrant/punk musician/lesbian/addict/hair stylist, set (mostly) in NYC circa the 80s/90s. The author passed away a year ago, and I decided to read this book after listening to the GUT WRENCHING story on the Moth podcast by the her widow (who happens to be Elizabeth Gilbert? author of Eat Pray Love? this was all surprising news to me!) on the year anniversary of her death. I wasn't rly sure what to expect of this book, but I decided to give it a try because Rayya seemed like such an amazing person--and it contains lots of elements that I'm into (punk, hair, NYC). I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed. I kind of feel like I miss someone I never knew about when she was alive--which is weird, but speaks to the ability of Rayya's personality to shine through the pages of her book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jolene

    The ending catapulted this book from a 4- to a 5-star experience for me. Elias' story proves that the truth is more fabulous than fiction. She takes us from her parents' courtship and her Syrian childhood through her struggle with addiction. Through it all Rayya struggled to find real romantic love. Rayya takes ownership of her part in her troubled past but she also de-glamorizes the experience. Her writing proves that a raw experience can be conveyed without rampant vulgarity (a la Storm Large). The ending catapulted this book from a 4- to a 5-star experience for me. Elias' story proves that the truth is more fabulous than fiction. She takes us from her parents' courtship and her Syrian childhood through her struggle with addiction. Through it all Rayya struggled to find real romantic love. Rayya takes ownership of her part in her troubled past but she also de-glamorizes the experience. Her writing proves that a raw experience can be conveyed without rampant vulgarity (a la Storm Large). In this thoroughly absorbing memoir of addiction, Rayya shows us that you can lose your way even if you come from a "good" family. She is an enormously gifted writer and her story of her travails during the late 20th-century drug transformation of NYC should not be passed up. This book evokes compassion even from "straight-and-narrow" readers. Elias' story also serves as a call to action for an overhaul of methadone treatment programs, an expansion of Medicare to help more addicts, and greater mercy in the criminal justice system through programs like the one she describes. Drug overdoses are a leading killer of young people and bringing more awareness and sensitivity to this issue is necessary. Elias lived through her ordeal and would be a great advocate for addicts. Some of the experiences described here are quite harrowing. But this is not just a book of sensational stories, you learn a lot about Rayya. If you're wondering about the name of the book (i.e. Harley Loco), the meaning is revealed quite nicely. The reader also hopes that the author finds forgiveness in her family and fulfillment in her work. This is far and away the best "addiction memoir" I have read ever since I became aware of the genre.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    Rayya Elias has given the world her life on a silver platter. She is incredibly candid about her sexuality and her struggle with addiction. The book is a hard-hitting, no holds barred, unapologetic memoir that’s not for the faint-hearted. Being a memoir the book is obviously spoken in the narrative. What’s incredible about the read is that Rayya’s life plays out like a movie. You will have a hard time believing the woman actually lived each of the experiences; that the book is pure exaggeration o Rayya Elias has given the world her life on a silver platter. She is incredibly candid about her sexuality and her struggle with addiction. The book is a hard-hitting, no holds barred, unapologetic memoir that’s not for the faint-hearted. Being a memoir the book is obviously spoken in the narrative. What’s incredible about the read is that Rayya’s life plays out like a movie. You will have a hard time believing the woman actually lived each of the experiences; that the book is pure exaggeration or fiction but you would be wrong. From her childhood in Syria escaping with her family from political unrest to the shores of America the journey of Rayya’s life has been one of hardship but also filled with moments of triumph for her. A willful child from the time she could walk Raaya perfected the art of digging in her heels to get her way which often lead her headlong into reckless situations with punishing results. Rayya has worn many hats from rock star, hairdresser, lesbian and now novelist. She owns each of her incarnations, not looking for sympathy or acceptance but what she does do with cathartic book is help people to realize addiction can be overcome with hard work, perseverance and the love and support of family and close friends. Though the book is often a difficult read it is one I highly recommend. It’s not a touchy feely light read to while away the afternoon at the cottage or beach but it is one that is full of impact. I applaud Rayya Elias for having the balls to put her life into words. Disclaimer: The ARC of this book was given to me by Viking Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carolann

    ‘I’ve realized that the edge of living without substance is razor sharp and cuts deeper than everything else. The experience is more radical than any high I’ve ever known. Yes, life can sometimes be dull and mundane, but most of the time, it’s more interesting and exciting than anything I experienced when I simply plunged into it without thinking.’ Rayya Elias’s book is an autobiographical account of a life draped in drug abuse, hard partying and sexual exploration. The tale begins in Elias’s chi ‘I’ve realized that the edge of living without substance is razor sharp and cuts deeper than everything else. The experience is more radical than any high I’ve ever known. Yes, life can sometimes be dull and mundane, but most of the time, it’s more interesting and exciting than anything I experienced when I simply plunged into it without thinking.’ Rayya Elias’s book is an autobiographical account of a life draped in drug abuse, hard partying and sexual exploration. The tale begins in Elias’s childhood home of Syria, and we travel to Detroit and then New York City, with Rayya as she learns who she is, who she isn’t and who she is going to become. After completing this story, I found myself inspired by Rayya’s honesty, openness, and, although I myself have never suffered from addiction, I was inspired by her strength and determination to beat her addiction amidst relapse after relapse. Luckily, I was able to ask her a few questions spurred from the pure truth Rayya shares. READ THE INTERVIEW

  16. 4 out of 5

    melydia

    This is a memoir by a woman born in Syria, raised in Detroit, and educated on the streets of 1980s New York City. She is a hairdresser, a musician, a lesbian, a drug addict. Elias's descriptions of her life are completely unflinching: her talents as a stylist and musician are devoid of any humility, but her moments of weakness and crimes against her loved ones are presented without any excuses or pleas for sympathy. Her world is one of her own making, for better or for worse. I would have apprec This is a memoir by a woman born in Syria, raised in Detroit, and educated on the streets of 1980s New York City. She is a hairdresser, a musician, a lesbian, a drug addict. Elias's descriptions of her life are completely unflinching: her talents as a stylist and musician are devoid of any humility, but her moments of weakness and crimes against her loved ones are presented without any excuses or pleas for sympathy. Her world is one of her own making, for better or for worse. I would have appreciated more physical description of the world she lived in, so I could really picture it, but Elias is clearly not that kind of writer. Photographs would have been nice too. All the same, this was an interesting portrait of a life so completely unlike mine, and a good cautionary tale about drug use.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I was curious about the life of the woman who was Elizabeth Gilbert's best friend for years and became her lover shortly before Rayya died. This was a woman who lived on the edge. What I liked most about it was how the edgy 80s music/creative scene became a place where the "misfits" like her could thrive...that was until some of them, including Ray, spiraled into drug addiction. The writing isn't great but has its shining moments. (But, really, Penguin--you couldn't edit this better? Unbelievabl I was curious about the life of the woman who was Elizabeth Gilbert's best friend for years and became her lover shortly before Rayya died. This was a woman who lived on the edge. What I liked most about it was how the edgy 80s music/creative scene became a place where the "misfits" like her could thrive...that was until some of them, including Ray, spiraled into drug addiction. The writing isn't great but has its shining moments. (But, really, Penguin--you couldn't edit this better? Unbelievable the number of errors.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sally Kitter

    Love, loved this book and did not want to put it down. Not your typical memoir, but one I insist you don't miss out on. Gritty and raw, but with a touch of humor and a whole heap of heart. As an added bonus, Elias includes a web page in the back of the book. Booking information, tour dates, photos, and much more including several of her own songs can be heard and downloaded there. "A soundtrack for the book." says Elias. This is one talented and brilliant woman.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ocean

    i could see how this would have been interesting if you were sitting with the author somewhere and she was regaling you with her tales, but it doesn't translate very well onto the page. just story after story of her doing dumb shit & fucking people over & getting into fights. you don't get to know or care about any of the people involved. i read it on an overnight shift & it fulfilled its purpose of keeping me awake, but left me feeling empty inside. i could see how this would have been interesting if you were sitting with the author somewhere and she was regaling you with her tales, but it doesn't translate very well onto the page. just story after story of her doing dumb shit & fucking people over & getting into fights. you don't get to know or care about any of the people involved. i read it on an overnight shift & it fulfilled its purpose of keeping me awake, but left me feeling empty inside.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Law

    I have to admit, I don’t remember reading this book the first time around. I picked it up at the library earlier this year (2020) simply bc it was on the neighborhood shelf. Rayya’s memoir ends around the time that I first moved to the neighborhood. Still, it was like a trip down memory lane. I enjoyed the scenes and places that lasted long enough for me to experience. Some of her descriptions made me remember other characters and places that I then had to stop and look up.

  21. 4 out of 5

    HITWM

    An interesting, easy read but somewhat less insightful than I was expecting. The main lesson that I walked away with was that one may only encounter clues about one's sexuality much later on in life i.e., that it does not have to be something one suspects but repressed in childhood. Also, that it is possible to be gay but not loathe sexual encounters with the opposite gender.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tobias

    Some thoughts: http://www.vol1brooklyn.com/2013/04/1... Some thoughts: http://www.vol1brooklyn.com/2013/04/1...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    She just wanted to be loved by the right person. Always chasing after something, good and bad. Fascinating read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gigi

    Very real writing from a very real person.... Nothing flowery or fake in this memoir. Love her spirit. Grateful she was able to share her story.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Wish she had talked more about recovery than addiction.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Moore

    This book caught my attention while I was in this hipster book store in Seattle. I was immediately intrigued because it's about a girl from Syria who immigrated to the US as a child and then lived in NYC during the hey-day of punk and newwave music. I really enjoyed her anecdotes about growing up in Aleppo and then in the suburbs of Detroit. While I think some of her stories about her band, her career as a hair stylist, and life in NYC may have been embellished, I do think her stories about her This book caught my attention while I was in this hipster book store in Seattle. I was immediately intrigued because it's about a girl from Syria who immigrated to the US as a child and then lived in NYC during the hey-day of punk and newwave music. I really enjoyed her anecdotes about growing up in Aleppo and then in the suburbs of Detroit. While I think some of her stories about her band, her career as a hair stylist, and life in NYC may have been embellished, I do think her stories about her addiction and life as a junkie are probably more fact than fiction. I've read several books about punk bands, their history, and their lives in the New York scene through the 70s and 80s. They all mention drug use as a just a thing that everyone did with minimal exploration into the topic. Elias really WENT there and was explicit about her life as a coke and heroin user. It was rather eye-opening since, luckily, that is a world I've never seen or experienced.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hanna

    This was a fast read, and it was interesting, but I feel like I never got to know what Rayya thought about her experiences. It was almost just a cataloging of what happened to her. Granted, she had a rough and eventful life, and this book captures a lot of that, but I would have liked to know more about what she thought, and why she did the things she did. As someone at my book group said, this isn't a very literary book–there isn't much art in it. I don't entirely agree with that characterizati This was a fast read, and it was interesting, but I feel like I never got to know what Rayya thought about her experiences. It was almost just a cataloging of what happened to her. Granted, she had a rough and eventful life, and this book captures a lot of that, but I would have liked to know more about what she thought, and why she did the things she did. As someone at my book group said, this isn't a very literary book–there isn't much art in it. I don't entirely agree with that characterization, but I still wanted more than what was here. It's also a very heavy read and at times very dark. It is unflinchingly honest in describing events in her life, but in contrast with that honesty, it feels superficial because I never feel like she let me into some of her emotions and feelings about what happened in her life–you never get below the surface of the events themselves.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    Rayya, who I mainly knew because she and Elizabeth Gilbert fell in love, is a great writer. She was born in Syria and moved to Detroit when she was seven. She becomes involved in the art world, and becomes a renowned hair dresser. But Rayya was plagued by depression and self doubt and she falls into drugs, starting up with light drugs and then moving on to crack and heroin. She becomes a full-blown junkie, loses everything and ends up in jail. I also liked how she talks about her lesbian experie Rayya, who I mainly knew because she and Elizabeth Gilbert fell in love, is a great writer. She was born in Syria and moved to Detroit when she was seven. She becomes involved in the art world, and becomes a renowned hair dresser. But Rayya was plagued by depression and self doubt and she falls into drugs, starting up with light drugs and then moving on to crack and heroin. She becomes a full-blown junkie, loses everything and ends up in jail. I also liked how she talks about her lesbian experience, her early denial of it, and then how she just really longed to be loved by a great woman, even though many of her relationships were dangerous and toxic. Rayya is a great writer, and there's an energy to her work, and her story is quite rivetting. After I was done the book, I looked up some of her music and interviews. Rest in peace, Rayya.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I first heard about Rayya Elias when my wife mentioned that an old acquaintance, a really cool girl from the Detroit hair scene, had passed away. She told me how cool and talented she was. We read her partner's touching tribute to her and were very moved. Later, I came across this book. Even had I not had any idea who this woman was, it seemed very interesting. Let me just say: this is one of the best books I've ever read. I have read tons and tons of books and very few have touched me like this I first heard about Rayya Elias when my wife mentioned that an old acquaintance, a really cool girl from the Detroit hair scene, had passed away. She told me how cool and talented she was. We read her partner's touching tribute to her and were very moved. Later, I came across this book. Even had I not had any idea who this woman was, it seemed very interesting. Let me just say: this is one of the best books I've ever read. I have read tons and tons of books and very few have touched me like this one. My only disappointment was that it ended. I wish I could say I look forward to reading more from Rayya Elias but, sadly, the world is now without this great, honest and talented soul. In January 2018, the world lost a special voice.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Hosford

    I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book and I certainly didn’t expect to get a whole story on drug abuse by a very troubled young woman but the more I read, the more I realised the depth of complexity of the drug addicts life. It certainly is a heart rending account of a very troubled soul who eventually overcomes an overwhelming internal struggle and it taught me a lot about something I know nothing about. The author was such a talented musician, songwriter and hairdresser who had I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book and I certainly didn’t expect to get a whole story on drug abuse by a very troubled young woman but the more I read, the more I realised the depth of complexity of the drug addicts life. It certainly is a heart rending account of a very troubled soul who eventually overcomes an overwhelming internal struggle and it taught me a lot about something I know nothing about. The author was such a talented musician, songwriter and hairdresser who had so much to offer the world around her, had this terrible curse not overcome her. I certainly recommend this confronting story. It was well written.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.