‘Perfect Marriage’ tells story of addicts

Posted Feb. 23, 2013

“The Perfect Marriage”
Kimberla Lawson Roby


“The Perfect Marriage” is a book that shows that even though a family may seem to have it all, there can be serious issues behind closed doors. In this situation, the bond of marriage is tested when drugs are introduced.

Starting at the prologue, the reader is immediately hit with the news that Denise and Derrek didn’t just dabble into drugs. They were doing one or two lines of cocaine every night as a way to unwind from their very busy work lives. Denise, a director of nursing for one of Chicago’s largest nursing homes, didn’t start this bad habit out of nowhere. She blames her parents for guarding her too much.

While most teenagers were enjoying parties, she was told to read her Bible everyday and stay involved in church activities. She wasn’t even allowed to hang out with her cousins that had kids because her parents thought they would be a bad influence on her.

While Denise and Derrek had been married for 15 years, they came from different backgrounds. They completed grad school at the University of Illinois and, from previous top schools, Denise had it easier than Derrek. Her father was one of the top criminal attorneys in downtown Chicago and was able to pay for school without a struggle.

But Derrek, whose parents got caught up in drugs, had to live with his grandparents who didn’t have a large income. But Denise and Derrek didn’t meet until both of them were employees at the same hospital after graduation.

For the first few chapters, author Kimberla Roby starts in the present and references to the past. Because of this, the reader is able to see the bigger picture and helps to immediately avoid casting Denise and Derrek as careless junkies. Roby shows strength of the love between Denise and Derrek.

Roby is an award-winning author of several fiction novels such as “Secret Obsession,” “Be Careful What You Pray For” and “Casting the First Stone,” which have also been New York Times bestsellers. She won the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work-Fiction category. She lives with her husband in Illinois.

In most of Roby’s works, she highlights the struggles black women face, having to deal with jobs, family and relationships. Denise is a perfect example of how even successful black women can still face the lowest of lows in life but get through them.

The reader can feel the love Denise and Derrek have for their seven-year-old daughter Mackenzie and how close-knit they are as a family when they have pizza night and watch “The Color Purple” together.

But the newest addiction that Denise had was towards Vicodin. Without it, she couldn’t unwind and fall asleep.  What started as a prescription medicine for falling on ice turned into a necessity for her to even function.

Denise and Derrek start to attend Narcotics Anonymous to at least try to stop the addictions. While Derrek is open about his problem, Denise has a hard time accepting that they do have a problem. She doesn’t want everybody to know her business and wants to settle it in private.

Derrek, who had issues with his twin brother, Dixon, starts to get deeper into drugs and issues between them get bigger. But that turns out to be one of Derrek’s regrets. A tragedy in the family makes him feel like he just can’t get his life together, despite having it all.

People close to Derrek start to notice that his temper was set off fairly easy, he disappeared some nights, and always looked sick. Denise tried to help him but what could she do when she was a junkie herself? Their relationship starts to get rocky, to the point where Denise asked Derrek to move out of the house.

But once again, a terrible incident occurs and there was nobody to blame but themselves and their drug addiction.

Similar to her other books, such as her Rev. Curtis Black series and her stand-alone titles; Roby writes a story that reminds readers that everything is not what it seems. In the Rev. Curtis Black series, a preacher in a fictional church in Chicago becomes a womanizer and just cannot seem to shake it off throughout his three marriages.

Similar to “The Perfect Marriage,” Rev. Curtis Black cannot stay away from the black hole he has put himself in despite knowing that he has to do better and be the good model citizen people believe him to be.

But in “The Perfect Marriage,” it is hard to not have compassion and doubt towards Denise and Derrek. The reader may be quick to judge since they are parents, have great jobs, and live comfortabley. But not everything can be seen through rose-colored glasses.

Stress becomes a huge factor as to why the drug addictions start. Without the bigger picture, it is easy to label these two as careless parents. But addiction is real and it is not something that can go away in a few days or even months.

The only thing lacking in the story is a good ending. While the ending was good in content, the development of it was a little off. Roby thoroughly goes into details from the beginning of the story but when it starts to get to the end, it wasn’t enough. The reader is left wanting more at the end.

But Denise finally comes to terms with her problem and wants to seek help, which is the happy ending any family member dealing with a similar situation would want.

There are many important life lessons to be learned from this story, but the most important is that the love given by family and friends is the remedy to getting past a bad life experience.

Title: “The Perfect Marriage”
Author: Kimberla Lawson Roby
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Availability: Kindle, hardcover, paperback, and audio edition
Prices: On Amazon for the hardcover: $11.22, paperback: $9.88, Kindle edition: $8.89
Edition: First
Released: Jan. 8, 2013
Pages: 193
Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5