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A Review of “A Walk In His Shoes”, a story of tragedy and recovery by Dustin and Dallas John


My name is Jim and I am a recovering alcoholic. Have been for more than a few twenty-four hours. I have been following Dustin John’s blog for quite some time and he recently published a book with his dad.

A Walk in His Shoes

In a recent post he offered to send bloggers a free book for an honest review. Being me, I couldn’t take the free book, I bought mine. I’d want someone to do the same for me.

I started the book, A Walk In His Shoes, written by Dustin and his dad, Saturday morning and I couldn’t put it down until I was done (about 10 hours for the 280 page book). The following is my review.

A Walk in His Shoes is a gripping, if painful, account of a journey through addiction from the perspectives of a young pup in recovery and his father and mother. A brilliant idea that absolutely floored me. I only wish my pops were still on the right side of the grass, pumping air so I could copy them.

First, the journey into the bowels of addiction. Rarely am I so thankful for my high bottom recovery but in this case, with every new twist of the story, all I could do was thank God as I watched Dustin pull the lever as he was standing life’s toilet.  His descriptive account of his addiction is among the best I’ve ever read.

Dallas, Dustin’s dad, gave a heart-wrenching account of watching his youngest son’s descent into the abyss and seeing the difference in the story based on point of view was refreshing.

The addiction part of the book, about the first half, was the most riveting for me to read but is so for a very specific reason.  Being a recovering alcoholic myself, I know the schemes.  I also know what it looks like when someone is ready to recover.  My anxiousness had more to do with willing him to get there than of watching the train wreck.

Unfortunately, reading the recovery portion of the book proved difficult for me.  The recipe for the proper cocktail, if you will, for recovery (no matter how one chooses to recover) is simple.  If one gets this, they recover.  If not, they relapse.  It’s that simple (I’ve witnessed this thousands of times over the last little while).

Even more painful from my perspective, was the conclusions his father reached after Dustin started on his road to recovery. When he started in on hoping his son would have the willpower to stay clean I almost did a spit-take (we recovering addicts and alcoholics were absent the day they handed out willpower.  Stubbornness, we have that in spades, but not so much willpower).

Simply stated, it’s hard for me to watch someone try to skirt around the necessities to find an easier softer way, even though we all do it, because we also know this is a life and death struggle.  See, I’ve never relapsed.  Not once.  I’ve had a couple of close calls but close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades, as they say, so it’s hard for me to watch relapses because to me they’re unnecessary.  The tough part is that I’m wrong about relapses, we have to go through what we have to go through to get where we’re going, but this fact doesn’t make it any easier to watch.

I am a harsh critic when it comes to recovery books. I’ve been around for long enough that I’m a little jaded because I’ve seen success and more than enough failure to know what works. In fact, I almost didn’t read the book because I didn’t think I could give it a fair shake. I was wrong. I am, without doubt, glad I did. I’m a better person for having read it and it is absolutely a must read for parents with an addict in the family.


My sponsor’s sponsor gave me my six month coin almost 23 years ago now, and when he presented it to me he said, “Jim, I promise you, if you keep coming back and work the steps, you’re life will get so good you’ll think it can’t possibly get any better. Then six months later you’ll realize it did.” I’ve been there dozens of times since.

Dustin’s is one of those stories. The book he and his dad wrote is, in a word, fantastic.

If you’ve ever been touched by an alcoholic and wondered, “What the F*** was he/she thinking?”  This is the book for you to read.  I’d lay odds A Walk In His Shoes will help you to understand.

Also, as with any recovering alcoholic or addict, there are several points in Dustin’s using section and dozens in his recovery where I could see God working to help him (a few he recognized himself). If you need evidence that there is a God and every once in a while there is a nudge of help, read this book. Also, on the same note, if you know there’s a God and believe in the fire and brimstone kinda Fella, the folks who believe God Burns the wicked and is vengeful, read this book. Finally, if you are an addict or alcoholic who believes that God could, or even would, turn His back on you, that you cannot be forgiven and will never enjoy the sunlight if the Spirit, read this book.

All of our stories are like this, but Dustin’s ability to give it vivid color makes his salvation all the more obvious.


  1. Tracey says:

    Hmmmm…so, to read or not to read. Other people’s recovery and the road their families lead can be very disheartening for me with my alcoholic mother continuing to drink and my father telling her she just needs willpower. Uggh. Sigh. At times I feel utterly hopeless about the situation.

  2. Dustin John says:

    I gotta tell you I was very excited when you told me you would read and review my book. I’ve known you long enough to know you have what few have – honest criticism and strong convictions. I’ve been so close to the book myself; and everyone around me, I couldn’t step far enough back from it to uncover my biasing shadow.
    It’s been the major life goal of mine to complete the book and I’m proud that I finished, but hearing that you are glad you read it makes it that much more of a victory for me. That was a big part of our goal and I wish my dad was here with us to celebrate all of our hard work. Even still- I will not let him down.
    I appreciate the time, money, and effort you put in to reading and reviewing my book and your consistency with reading my posts. It means a lot to me so thank you.
    I posted your review on my Twitter and Facebook. I hope you don’t mind. And congrats on decades of sobriety man. I knew it was a couple weeks at least 😉 but wow! That is awesome.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks Dustin. Let’s just say I’m properly scared. I know what I am, a two-fisted drunk (one in each hand and the case betwixt my legs). This will not change, so it’s just a matter of recoiling as of from hot flame. But you get that now. Keep the faith, brother.

  3. Sue Slaght says:

    Your review has left me with goosebumps. It sounds like an amazing, if not gut wrenching read. Thanks so much for sharing it here Jim.

    • bgddyjim says:

      It’s only gut wrenching if you can’t forgive him for what he did not that he made it out alive. It’s a great book. It had to be for me to like it… I’m finicky that way.

  4. […] A Review of “A Walk In His Shoes”, a story of tragedy and recovery by Dustin and Dallas&… […]

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