Kelly Ray Knight’s Addicted, Pregnant, Poor is an important read. Addicted, Pregnant, Poor tells the stories of women in San Francisco who are addicted to drugs and pregnant. Their stories tell a spectacular story of government failure, discrimination, and cruelty that far too often defines America.
Addicted, Pregnant, Poor is the most frustrating book I have read in a very long time. Sometimes, I wanted to scream about the choices made by the women chronicled in the story. Yes, I understand the power of addiction. I recognize my frustration with the women wasn’t fair. Still, it was hard for me to watch them continue hurting themselves, their children, and their fetuses.
The cruel, stupid governmental policies that trap these women in nearly impossible situations added to my frustration. The idea that incarceration is often an addicted woman’s best shot at treatment is absurd. Denying people battling addiction access to government benefits is nonsensical. How can people try to recover when they don’t have food or a roof over their head?
The sexism highlighted in these stories was maddening. Reading about women selling their bodies to pay for rooms that could be rented by the day while their “boyfriends” lounged around was upsetting. The reality that many times the women needed their “boyfriends” to act as a kind of protection while they sold their bodies was horrifying.
Addicted, Pregnant, Poor was an uncomfortable read. Fighting through the discomfort, I came out of the experience better educated and more aware of systemic failings and the need for us to do better. Compassion is far too rare.