Score: 92/100 (9.2 out of 10)
“Heroin to Hero” is the incredible, inspirational true story of Paul Boggie, a man who overcame a heroin addiction to eventually become an honored member of the Scots Guard, even guarding Buckingham Palace itself!
While we thought that would be the main focus of this autobiography, this book is actually quite free-flowing and varied in its content. This book reads like a collection of diary entries, chronicling Boggie's experiences from childhood to the present day. Though drugs and addiction are discussed, the book also covers his relationships with people including his daughter and current wife and his blooming love for fitness. It also greatly details his entertaining and sometimes humorous experiences in the military, on the path to becoming a Scots Guard.
Something that's absolutely, positively undeniable and admirable about Boggie is that his heart is in the right place. Not only did he write this book for himself and his loved ones, but he wrote it largely to serve as an example and an inspiration to others who might be struggling. He didn't write this for profit. In fact, all profits for the book go toward helping the homeless of Scotland. Boggie believes that no one—including the homeless and addicts—should be freezing to death outside in prosperous countries like Scotland or Great Britain. The author riles against the rich and the powerful who do little or nothing to help the poor. Furthermore, he walks the talk, providing things like blankets by the van-full to the homeless.
This book kicks off at the beginning: in Boggie's childhood. He lived as one of the less athletic members of his athletic, sports-loving family. Despite heavy discipline from his parents, he admits to acting out and often falling short of their expectations for much of his life, eventually culminating in an addiction to heroin.
But this is a comeback story! And what would a comeback story be without a down time or two? Boggie experienced many setbacks, and he takes us into the mind of an addict enduring a furious internal struggle with tremendous external and life or death consequences. No, he didn't quite resort to crimes like robbery or carjacking, but he does mention that those temptations existed and entrapped many other addicts that he knew of. He witnessed people he knew resort to crime in order to feed their addictions.
Drugs became a huge part of his life, even pulling him away from forming meaningful relationships with people. Despite many women finding him attractive or wanting to be friendly with him, drugs still dominated his thoughts and drew him away from them. The heroin stash at home was more important than the date he could've had that night. Even a boys night out was out of the question if it didn't revolve around getting a fix.
Heroin also made him feel dependent on it and feel like he couldn't live without it. Boggie reminds us that the power to overcome an addiction like heroin lies within a person's mind. If you convince yourself that you can't live without something, then you probably won't be able to. If you tell yourself that it might be challenging but that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, then you're more likely to overcome the addiction.
Boggie proposes that it helps to have a reason to get over the addiction that is greater than the addiction, and that reason for Boggie was his family.
As mentioned before, Boggie had a daughter who he'd unwillingly become estranged from after multiple issues with her mother, Ivy. In a relationship that sounds eerily similar to Johnny Depp & Amber Heard, Ivy tormented Boggie by dangling his heroin over the balcony, using it as leverage against him. They would often struggle and end up wrestling/grappling, but Boggie insists that he never dared strike her or anyone else. His daughter is probably the saddest part of the entire book since it is clear that the author loves, misses, and cares about her, but the chasm between him and her mother is so great that he rarely gets to see her. Deep down inside, you can just tell that Boggie knows that if drugs weren't such a controlling part of his life, then maybe he could've had a better and closer relationship with his daughter.
Incredibly, as part of this inspirational comeback story, Boggie does find a bit of a “happy ending” in finding his wife, Stephanie, someone who noticed him during his time working at a grocery store, a time when he was still heavily distracted by his addiction.
Perhaps the funnest part of this book involves Boggie's experience in the military. Some of it is hilarious. Boggie joined the army around the age of 30, making him the oldest of the cadets at the time, a fact which wasn't lost on anyone. He was constantly treated like the “grandpa” of the group even by the sergeant, James Rose, who later became a friend. When he would be in public with the other soldiers, people would automatically jump to the conclusion that he was their officer because of his age.
In one of the biggest moments of the book (in more ways than one), Boggie severely injures his leg during a training exercise. Now, you'd think this would be a tragic or traumatic moment, and it probably felt that way to Boggie at the time, but in hindsight it is one of the funniest and most entertaining stories that the author has to tell. He describes himself yelling “like a little girl” and is treated like absolute crap by everyone in light of his injury, even by the medic (who insists he stand on his bad leg) and by the other soldiers who look at him as getting off easy. Incredibly, this and a later back injury come back around to become blessings in disguise. He is eventually reunited with Stephanie after many years apart and is medically discharged from the military in the midst of the global War on Terror. While Boggie isn't proud of being medically discharged and missing out on serving in combat alongside his buddies, he relishes the experience of being in the military. He is especially proud of having worn the honorable bearskin hats of the Scots Guard and having guarded Buckingham Palace, where he felt like a pop star with cameras flashing all around, and also Windsor Castle, all after overcoming his addiction to heroin.
When it comes to autobiographies, there are two types that often come up: long boring ones and fun short ones, and this falls into the latter camp. This is such a fun little autobiography with a ton of heart.
Despite his many struggles, Boggie calls writing this book the most difficult thing he ever did. Come and celebrate this man's incredible accomplishments and check out this book on Amazon!