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‘Chancers’ – A memoir that shows the reality of addiction, recovery and love

08-24-16 Category: Addiction

‘Chancers’ – A memoir that shows the reality of addiction, recovery and love  Reporter meets photographer, they fall in love and live happily ever after right? Maybe. Things get a lot more complicated if the photographer is doing heroin.

When the authors of this story met, they weren’t expecting to start a relationship. They took a chance and ended up in love, at least until a heroin addiction tore things apart. Written by Susan Stellin and Graham MacIndoe, “Chancers: Addiction, Prison, Recovery, Love: One Couple’s Memoir,” tells the story of its two authors’ romance, how MacIndoe’s drug addiction separated them and how they were brought together again in the most unlikely of ways.

Alternating between the two authors’ perspectives, readers get a true and heart-wrenching portrayal of what addiction looks like and how it can destroy a person’s life. They follow MacIndoe and Stellin into the complicated world of the American criminal justice system and the even-more-horrific experience of trying to avoid deportation.

With its two perspectives, this book provides a well-rounded and balanced account of the stories of both its authors. MacIndoe’s accounts give readers a deep look at how someone can go from being a well-regarded professional and homeowner, to being jailed and threatened with exile because of his addiction, to rising back up again. Meanwhile, Stellin’s narrative shows the trials of someone who cares for an addict and has to learn how to walk with him in recovery rather than try to make the path for him.

Altogether, “Chancers” gives a raw, incredibly honest and well-written account of the pain of addiction and incarceration and the strain of trying to decide whether to stay with someone on his or her road to recovery. Yet despite the many heart-wrenching moments in this book, it is filled with hope, making the book that much more engaging.

What do people think?

Kirkus reviews praise this memoir as “emotionally resonant and evenly structured,” saying the authors’ “tandem chronicle resists overly romanticizing their bittersweet interactions to focus on the dedication and devotion necessary to make their already-complicated relationship survive the fallout of critical hardships. An emotionally complex and intensely personal binary memoir of addiction and sustainable love.”

Other readers have had a largely positive response to “Chancers” as well. It is described as a “fascinating read” and “a heartbreaking read, but one that will help inform your understanding of what it is like to be in the shoes of someone who loves a person suffering the ravages of an addiction.”

It can also be said that one of the best things about the story is that it brings awareness to the problems of addiction that ravage our world and reminds readers that those in such situations are still human beings who need help.

About the authors

“Chancers” was written through the combined efforts of Susan Stellin and Graham MacIndoe.

Stellin is a reporter and author with a B.A. in political science from Stanford University. She often writes for The New York Times and authored “How to Travel Practically Anywhere,” a travel planning guide. You can learn more about Stellin on her site

MacIndoe is a photographer and adjunct professor of photography at The New School’s Parsons School of Design. Originally from Scotland, MacIndoe studied painting in Edinburgh and earned his master’s degree in photography at the Royal College of Art in London. You can learn more about MacIndoe and see his photography on his site at

Stellin and MacIndoe were awarded a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation in 2014 for their series “American Exile,” which documents the stories of families divided by deportation.

About this author

Brianna Gibbons is a web producer for Sovereign Health. She graduated from Westmont College with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently works hard to organize and publish the content created by Sovereign Health for the blogs and websites. In her spare time, Brianna loves to read, write, knit, travel, dote on her pets and randomly go on small adventures with friends. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at  

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