Book Review: Friends, Lovers, and The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry

I’m busy enough these days that I rarely post a book review unless I’ve been asked by a publisher. This is the exception because I’ve read some other reviews and opinions on this book, and I wanted to offer a different perspective.

The book?

Matthew Perry’s Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.

I’ve followed actor Matthew Perry’s career since he guest starred as Carol’s boyfriend on Growing Pains. Ironically, his character passed away after an accident where he was drinking and driving.

When Friends came out, I was their target age and hooked from episode one. Chandler was a favorite. It wasn’t only that his lines were written well, it was his execution, his gestures and expressions.

I noticed his appearance during the seasons changed. I’d read he went to rehab and I knew during the beach house episodes he absolutely had a substance abuse problem. But I didn’t hear too much and as the show ended, I was married and a mom. I wasn’t aware Matthew Perry’s life was far from funny.

My Review:

This isn’t your typical memoir and that might be tripping readers up. If anyone is looking for Friends memories, behind-the-scenes stories with the other actors and general gossip, you’ll be disappointed. However, I hope that doesn’t stop you.

Perry’s book is the most raw encouragement and get help letter to a fellow addict I’ve ever read. There isn’t anything glamourous about his addiction. The fact that he’s a celebrity doesn’t stop him from nearly dying more than once or give him a pass from the consequences. He’s spent millions to get well and then also to numb his pain and feed the addiction. He’s lost precious relationships and made choices that hurt himself, his family, friends, work, and partners. He’s very honest, some say too much so, but I think it’s needed. I give him credit. I’m sure it wasn’t easy going back and processing those times and writing them.

More than the raw journey into addiction, he writes about his fears and what I believe is the key moment that led him to numbing his pain. Not only was he given dangerous drugs as a young child, he had a real fear of abandonment. As I read I could see that every choice he made in relationships and addiction traced back to that fear. The cruel irony of addiction is you will be left alone if you continue to use.

Although we’re the same age, the mom in me wanted to reach into the pages and give this lost person a hug. I could also tell he’s on a faith journey, although he might not define it that way. It is my core belief that we are all created with a gap in our life. We choose many things to fill that gap. But it is a God-shaped hole in which only His Son Jesus can fill. Not with religion, mind you, but a relationship with the living Christ who will rescue anyone out of the pit and never leave them alone.

Perry is blunt about his future. He can’t use again without consequences so severe he will either end up with a lifetime colostomy or in a body bag. With that, he’s taking it a day at a time and as of the writing of the book, he’s been in recovery 18 months.

Addiction is no laughing matter and maybe he would have more accolades from Friends fans if he ignored that and wrote about the time him and so-and-so did whatever. I’m so glad he did not. If you know someone struggling with addiction, read this book and give them a copy.

Matthew’s story may save their life.

I highly recommend.

Please note he is very honest about his choices and addiction is clearly depicted. This is not a religious book so there is language.