Sunday, March 24, 2013

Review: Closet Full of Coke: A Diary of a Teenage Drug Queen

"Mesc: A misnomer for tiny, hallucinogenic, purple pills. Mesc is short for the word mescaline, a reference to peyote cactus. The pills do not contain peyote. They are made from low-potency LSD and fillers.
Buy: A wholesale purchase of drugs by a drug dealer." (Page 1)

This is only page one of Closet Full of Coke by Indra Sena. Right away the readers see they are about to be witness to a world that they may find disturbing. It is about a child who is also a drug lord surrounded by pimps, teenage prostitutes, and drug users, one of which is her own father. In many ways, she was a typical teenage who liked to get dressed up, have fun with friends, and fall in love; however, she is also the equivalent of a Street CEO in that she runs her own lucrative drug cartel. Indra for me was like a cross between Bella and Scarface.

Almost every chapter begins with a definition of a word relating to drug slang which further underscores the fact that this book is about a world that would appall most people and a child is directly in the center of it.

Indra hooks the reader instantly and maintains this pace throughout the book. I can say there was not one page when I was bored or disinterested which made it a quick read for me.
There are moments I actually became frustrated with Indra.
For example, being in jail was tougher for her than living the life of a drug dealer, even though she feared for her life on the "outside" on a daily basis. She takes the reader through her misery and embarrassment while imprisoned.

“Excuse me, officer,” I called out, “I’m having my period, and I need a tampon.” “Yeah, right,” she called back". (Page 209) Indra sat there for at least 6 hours with her underwear wet with blood.

Upon release, she had opportunity to start over. Her father provided her with a job sifting through dirt, testing it for a construction project. She says that this job "humiliated" her. When she was actively a drug dealer, her nails were manicured, but now they are filled with dirt. I was surprised that she was so humiliated over working a legitimate job, especially after having come out of prison in which she experienced what one would think was a greater degree of embarrassment.

It seems dirt in her nails would be a welcome change.  There are times I thought, "why why don't you listen or take this way out?" The reader witnesses as she ignores her instincts, ignores good advice from those who do care about her, and throws away an opportunity at a second chance when she got out of jail.

You then realize this is a diary and her journey is going to take place no matter how much you want to jump through the pages and shake sense into her. Indra simply tells her story stating what happened without any filter, regret,or any judgment upon herself.

Overall, I did feel a great deal of sympathy for her, especially considering how she was treated by her parents. For instance, her mother left Indra and her younger sister to live by themselves so that she can live with her boyfriend who does not like children. Indra then describes her father's unconventional reaction when she reveals she is a drug dealer. "I laid lines out on my kitchen table with a razor and handed him the straw. My father’s face remained solemn. He simply took the metal straw from me, his slanted eyes oblique. 'You’re selling this now?' He snorted the line, 'how much?' (page 58)

My heart breaks for her at how her parents were not a source of strength and guidance which clearly led her on this destructive path in life.

My main criticism of the book is that it is really in need of an epilogue. An update on the characters in her diary and especially on Indra would have made the book more complete. The author does have an update on her web site of some of the characters in the book, which did provide me with the closure I needed from her story.

Bookshelf. "Closet Full of Coke" is a fascinating, brutally honest story of being a teenage drug dealer in the 1980's. It was so honest and uncensored, I felt as if I was looking through a neighbor's window but couldn't look away.


Laura Hoffman said...

hello. someone post a comment please

Jessica Bruce said...

I remember reading Go Ask Alice and Smack when I was in junior high school. I had the same sentiments. They are great books, but, oh, how I longed for those poor characters to get out of the situations life had handed them. I will say they had a significant impact on me as a youngster. I was terrified to even try drugs once the moments arose, later in life.

Indra Sena said...

Hi Laura: Thanks for reading and reviewing my book. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. I find your analysis of "dirt under my nails" fascinating. I think the main thing to remember is I was extremely young and totally lost. No one who has not grown-up with zero parenting can understand how defenseless, directionless, and self-destructive you become as a result. Plus being raised by criminals normalizes that lifestyle. I didn't even know I had a choice. I will add a short epilogue to a future edition but it surprises me how people think I would somehow be in touch with killers and criminals when I say I left that world forever and cut all ties with everyone. I left that world permanently at 19 and that makes me an anomaly. I was destined for a life of prison, drug addiction, and self-annihilation. There is tons of regret and self-judgment in my life but the book is narrated by my not-self-aware teen. My voice is not present in the book. Even I wish I could jump in and change the past. The simple answers you present for my teen self where not visible then and they come from a perspective of a logical adult, not an alcoholic homeless teen. I didn't trust anyone nor did I have a drop of self-esteem or self-preservation to lead me towards a better life. Readers can't really have it both ways: I left the life forever as they wanted but that means I don't have details on the criminals I cavorted with. As for me, I have spent my whole life trying to make up for my mistakes but I have no happy ending for you. Without a drink or a drug for nearly thirty years nothing dulls the pain of a past I will never escape till the grave. If I could teach one thing with my book it is this: you can ruin your life permanently with mistakes, even as a kid. And redemption is for hollywood movies. It does not exist for most of us who do unrepairable damage to those around us.

Laura Hoffman said...


Thank you for taking the time to respond to my review. I did recognize the fact that you were simply a young teenager with no guidance and I felt for you. Reading your book kind of made me feel helpless for the teenage you. It felt like I knew something bad was going to happen, but I couldn't do anything to prevent it.

This book is clearly a piece of you and it must be very difficult putting your life out there, ready to be judged by others. You definitely took a risk and have made yourself vulnerable to public opinion. My hope is that someone will read your story and it will help them either not make the same mistakes or realize that they have the opportunity to turn away from a bad situation they are currently in.

You wrote a book that has deservedly been well received by many.
I am very happy to see that you were able to survive your teenage years, where events happened to you that no one should ever witness in their lifetime.

I hope all is well, and take care.


Laura Hoffman said...

by the way, I tried commenting on your blog. :)

Indra Sena said...

Hello Laura!

I'm sorry I did not see this sooner, I just came across it. Thank you so much for your response and support. I did fix my blog to accept comments, that was an oversight...sorry :-) I really appreciate the time you spent reading and then reviewing the book. I do treasure thoughtful reviews. A lot of young people have read it and I do hope people read Closet and feel way more cautious about decisions.

It is also simple raw entertainment, watching people rise and fall.

I am hard at work on a second memoir covering two years in my early 20s, it is very different but sufficiently bizarre. I'll be sure to send you a copy when it is published.

I do feel at peace most of the time, when I just accept what is. It also helps to write, playing with words all day gives me so much pleasure.

Be well~Indra

Laura Hoffman said...

Thank you indra for your kind response!

I'm so happy you came out of the other side of this and are doing well.

This blog is going to be shut down soon by the way so I will be in touch with you on your blog.

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