As a six-year-old, Rachel Resnick must photograph her mother's bruised eye (beaten by her lover) as criminal evidence. Eleven-year-old Resnick draws a picture with her favourite pen of her alcoholic mother – hair frizzed out, arms outstretched with a bottle of beer – and gives it to her. Fourteen-year-old Resnick finds herself with no more mother to document, for the depressed woman dies by her own hand.
Her mother is the original love junkie of the title, but Resnick follows this doomed, destructive path herself, addicted to all the wrong men. It is only as a fortysomething that Resnick yearns to reverse the pattern and looks right into the heart of the painful past which had leaked into her present-day life and damaged it. Damage is at the heart of the narrative – from the computer destroyed by an ex-lover, to the wounded animals rescued, and the skewed, damaged psyches of the humans. It is exhausting, for Resnick, being addicted to pathological love, and often exhausting reading this. Yet towards the end Resnick loses the self-pity that plagued her addicted self, and views her circumstances with poignant understanding.