This Might Sting a Bit

by Claire Adlam

Everyone loves the Hay family. Down to earth Zimbabwean farmers. Quirkiest of all, Grandpa is the glue that holds them all together. Teenage Chris, the eldest child, is a classic wild child while his 16-year-old sister Kat is generally the sensible one. Kat then takes a blow to the head when, at a braai, she attempts to play rugby while drunk and wearing stilettos, both for the first time. A few weeks later, she takes another knock to the head – two freak accidents leading to a lifetime of chronic pain.

In her twenties, doctors are still short on answers, and it is easier to just throw prescription painkillers at the problem, setting the scene for Kat’s stormy love affair with pharmaceuticals – a battle she seems unlikely to win. From life of the party to self-centred addict, the ground rushes up to meet her. Her mother Gill leads the crusade on Kat’s problem but lets a few skeletons out of her own closest. A recovering alcoholic, she’s hardly squeaky clean herself.

Utterly broken by her addiction, Kat finally accepts help and crawls into treatment in South Africa. It’s a bone-rattling detox and a rough five weeks during which she wears far more mascara on her cheeks than eyes. Her counsellors chip away at her, getting every speck of denial out while her new, eccentric rehab friends teach her how to laugh again.

This Might Sting a Bit by Claire Adlam