Dangerous Candy

by Raffaella Fletcher and Peter Mayle

The author:
As this novel is an autobiography, I do not think to have to write something down about Raffaella Fletcher here.
Peter Mayle, her ghostwriter for this book, is a quite successful children’s book author, but as his life is not connected at all to the book, I consider him unimportant for the understanding of this biography.
This book was published in 1990.

Plot synopsis:
Raffaella Fletcher grew up in London, England. She first got curious about drugs, because TV was talking about them all time, and because they were prohibited she got more and more nosy about them. First of all Fletcher tries to make drugs herself, as she smokes grass from a park and tries other stuff, which gives her a headache but not a high.
Finally, she smokes her first joint at concert and from that point of her life she got deeper and deeper into the "drug game". This was at the age of twelve, by the time she reaches the thirteen she is sipping vodka and pills every morning before going to school. As a result her school reports get worse. Her parents want to know what The matter is but they simply do not think about a drug addict as daughter and so they assume she is "just" growing up.
At the age of sixteen she leaves home with a boyfriend, called Steve, to California. At first she has a great time there, as she starts taking harder drugs like cocaine and LSD. But after nine months both leave America for Australia, Steve’s original country. Down there she goes on using drugs and writing letters to her parents that everything is perfect, like she used to do in America. Aware of the danger of her expiring visa, she marries Steve to be able to stay in Australia. Fletcher even marries in a high and spends her honey-moon in a high.
She goes back to London to visit her parents and keeps on pretending that everything is perfect. At that time she already was addicted to drugs but did not accept it. She passes her time there in a constant high. The "squats", abandoned buildings filled with dealers and fiends, represent her second home. In one of these squats she meets David, an old friend, who depicts a Steve-substitute, but nothing more. She uses heroin for the first time but is not able to shoot it herself, so she always has to ask someone to do it for her.
After that experience she goes back to Australia, but not without preparations to earn a fiend-living there. She asks David to send her hash, hidden in a little statue. She makes a lot of money that way but gets arrested one day. Her lawyer betrays and runs off with all the money she made by selling the hash. She looks around for another job to earn money for a lawyer and starts working as a "model": Men who pay for it are allowed to take pictures of her.
At her trial she gets two years conditional, which means if she does not collide with law, this incident will be erased from her permanent record. However Raffaella cannot stand living without smack/heroin any more. She travels back to London and starts working in Bars and as a Prostitute in order to finance her addiction and Steve’s, who followed her to London and now was addicted to heroin too.
She gets deeper and deeper into addiction and the sex scene. Raffaella starts working at Queensway instead of the clubs, picking up crawlers (prostitute customers) there. As they are not able to find a proper housing, she asks her parents for help and they help her right away. Raffaella and Steve move into a flat only meters away from her parents.
Raffaella now does not shoot drugs into her veins because of the fun they give her but because she is not capable of living without them. She gets thinner, paler and sick, does not eat or take baths. She slides into the abyss of loneliness and misery, which every junkie has to face as his addiction infects his or her environment.
She tries to come off drugs by herself, goes to relatives in Italy to start the withdrawal. However all the tries she starts are too negligent to be crowned with success. She goes on playing comedy with her parents but does not visit them any more, afraid and ashamed that they could notice her addiction. She goes back to a squat and lives from one fix to another. Dope is controlling her moves, her thoughts, her actions, simply her WHOLE life. The physical symptoms of her dependence on drugs draw attention to themselves as she looses her hair and strength.
Her mother takes her to a house in New York in order to get to know her daughter’s problems. Raffaella cannot stand living without heroin there and undresses in front of her mother, breaking out in tears. Her mother does not waste any time and promises her daughter to go through "cold turkey" with her. They go back to London and a doctor suggests that Raffaella visits Joyce Ditzler, an expert on drug and alcohol addiction. Ditzler destroys her fancy of being unique with her problem, but also tells her that she is able to fight this disease with will power and help from her parents. Raffaella goes to Narcotics Anonymous to come off drugs as she realizes that heroin is stronger than her. She makes some progress and is not using something for three months but relapses.
Her mother sends her into treatment, because the NA is not working any more. Three months without using again and another relapse destroys all the work and money her parents put into to her withdrawal. Her parents cannot cope with her addiction any more so they post an ultimatum to Raffaella: If she really wants to get rid of her dependence they will help her one more time, but if she goes on using they will send her away and never let her into their house again. They visit their relatives in Italy once again and Raffaella starts to stop using. Symptomatic for her taking possession of her life she learns to Windsor, which gives her the felling that she is capable of control the direction of her life.
But because her old drug connection are too hazardous for her to relapse she is sent to Switzerland, to learn French and come off drugs completely.
She gets addicted to learning, enjoying it and really wanting to stop shooting poison into her body. She makes it, and is clear for five years now. However she still feels the demand for another hit, the monster inside her still wants to be fed.

Main characters:
I do not think, it is necessary to analyze Raffaella Fletcher’s character, because this book simply describes her life as well as her character. I will somewhat evaluate her character in the interpretation part.

I think this novel on the one hand helped Raffaella Fletcher to manage her past and on the other hand she wanted to give other junkies and addicts hope. She describes how the harmless beginnings of taking hash and other soft drugs rise to a strong addiction of heroin which controls her life. She is desperate but not able to give up drugs by herself. Because every time she takes drugs she gets deeper and deeper into a vicious circle: she takes drug because she feels bad, then because she took drugs she feels even worse and takes drugs again, this does not come to an end till her parents stick to her and help her to quit.
I think she was very lucky not to die within her teens. But nevertheless she was a junkie she always had friends around who helped her. Steve saved her from overdosing many times and saved her life on many occasions. Her parents do not send her away but try to help her no matter how many relapses she had. I think without the support and understanding for her situation she would be dead by now. She also was very lucky not to infect herself with AIDS or other venereal diseases. I somehow admire her strength and keeping up to fight for a normal life, which she always wanted to lead.
I found it ridiculous how she got into drugs. It is really nonsense to take drugs because you are curious but I guess many addictions start by trying and curiosity. She is to blame for her mislead life but you also have to give credit to her for making it out of dependence and the whole filthy drug scene.
A great number of addicts do not have this amount of luck that she definitely had. But however, this book shows the danger of drugs and also the superstition, that you could easily stop if you wanted, which is wrong. Drugs took over Raffaella’s life and nobody can control their effects, neither on you nor on your environment.
Raffaella Fletcher was lucky and strong enough to beat her addiction.

Personal comment:
I liked the novel. It really shows the fall from a well-situated kid to completely desperate junkie. The language is not hard to read but still impressive. And the fact that this is a true story, an actual life-story, adds the thrill to this novel. I really got soaked in the first time I read it, could not give it away. It never gets really boring, like many other books.
Her life can be compared with a roller coaster, thrilling, dangerous but with a lucky end. I think Raffaella Fletcher is a quite likable person, although she bordered death several times. But these experiences strengthened her personality and will to live.

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