Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Nick Reding has written a book about small town Iowa - and happens to focus on a small town not too far from my hometown. Oelwein, Iowa, is a town of over six thousand people in northeast Iowa, and is the central feature in a story about the death and life (not life and death) of small town America. As the title suggests, this book discusses the prevalence of drug abuse, especially methamphetamine, in small towns. While Oelwein is featured, it certainly is not the only town experiencing this problem, or even the worst. Reding was interviewed on the local news last night because of this controversy surrounding his book. He is quick to state that the reason he chose Oelwein is because people in the town were willing to talk to him. While some people feel the book shows Oelwein in a negative light, the town eventually triumphs as many residents including the mayor, police chief, and high school principal, come together to try and revive their town. A few names and places sound familiar, which I always find interesting, and I enjoy the ability to connect with a story in that way.

Because I live in small town Iowa and grew up going to Oelwein a few times a year, a part of me also wonders how oblivious I am to the meth epidemic. While I do know people who have struggled with their addictions, at some points I questioned whether Reding was painting the epidemic to be far worse than it is. Or maybe I am just that oblivious. I still don't know where I sit on that exactly, but Methland certainly gave me a lot to think about. While I most enjoyed reading about the personal stories in this book, there is a lot of information Reding gives that includes statistics and historical information about drug use. While I enjoyed the book, I think my husband enjoyed it even more. He spent our dreary, cold Independence Day reading this entire book. Here in Iowa it is hard to find a copy of this book to buy - has anyone else around the country heard of Methland?

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