210. High on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips

High on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips with Hilary Liftin

Pages: 292 pgs.
Ages: 18+
Finished: Nov. 14, 2009
First Published: Sept. 23, 2009
Genre: non-fiction, memoir
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

In the mid eighties, when I was on tour with the New Mamas & Papas, a porter brought two packages up to my hotel room.

Reason for Reading: I enjoy reading celebrity memoirs and was a big fan of One Day at a Time when the show was on. I had read Valerie Bertinelli's recent memoir and knowing Mackenzie Philips' checkered past figured she would have a very interesting memoir.

Acquired: I received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Comments: Mackenzie Phillips is the daughter of John Phillips (the mastermind of the famous singing group The Mamas & The Papas) and is best known for her role as Julie Cooper on One Day at a Time. In this book Mack tells her own story from birth to the present. She was born into the psychedelic world of the sixties, partially raised by a man addicted to a plethora of drugs who let her and her older brother do as they pleased. Their exposure to drugs lead them both to become users as children, happily supplied by their father. Mackenzie's life was to continue to be run by drugs for many, many years until she finally became clean for 15 years only to end up addicted to pain killers which led her straight back to the monster until she was arrested for possession in 2008. Once again clean, and pain free, Mackenzie tells all in this well-written biography.

Mackenzie's voice is very down to earth and makes for an easy read. She tells her whole life story without leaving out the ugly parts. She has secrets to reveal and does name names most of the time. One can tell right from the start though that she has not set out to trash anyone. This is her story and she accepts all responsibility for all the wrongs she's done in her life but also tells the wrongs done to her without attempting to blame anyone. I'm sure everyone knows the secret she reveals about her father (though I won't mention it, in case you haven't heard) and it is one of the creepiest, saddest, disgusting things one can read about and Mack's journey from violated victim to drug induced willing participant is an uncomfortable story to read.

The book is written with respect to all; she doesn't leave out parts, as in other memoirs I've read recently, about her siblings in so far as they concerned her life story. She stops at some point with each of them saying that it is that individual's story to tell, not hers, but at least the family dynamics are fully explored. Much time was spent on the One Day at a Time years which I fully appreciated as I was sorely disappointed in that aspect of Valerie Bertinelli's book.

Mackenzie has lived a hard life and excepts responsibility for it. Her son is the driving force behind her sobriety and staying clean. She shows how her life started on this route with the upbringing she had but as an adult she excepts making her own bad choices. It's a miracle she has pulled through this life and come out the other side. A very interesting read about the sixties/seventies drug culture, the eighties coke obsession, filled with famous names but centering on the life of a little girl who had to grow up in the middle of it all. Recommended.

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  1. Her story is so sad. I'm not big on memoirs, so I won't be reading it, but it's nice to hear that she takes responsibility for her own actions.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  2. Memoir's aren't usually my thing but growing up watching One Day at a Time and being a fan of the music of The Mamas & the Papas gives this one a certain pull.

    You don't want to know how many times I've seen American Graffiti (thanks to my hubby and son) but I keep seeing Mackenzie as that 13-y.o. kid who doesn't want to go home.

  3. This looks interesting... I can't decide if I want to it or not, though.

  4. There are so many musicians that I have to block out their personal lives whenever I listen to them. I have to say, it's taking me sometime to be able to listen to the Mamas and Papas again.


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