A Prayer for Orion: A Son’s Addiction and a Mother’s Love

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


A Prayer for Orion: A Son’s Addiction and a Mother’s Love


Katherine James


InterVarsity Press

Publication Date:

January 28, 2020




224 pages


At first, Katherine James and her husband Rick knew nothing about drug addiction. Then when their three children became young adults, they set up a space in their garage where their children and their friends could hang out. Over time, some of her son’s friends, young men who struggled with addictions and family issues (“The Lost Boys,” as James calls them) came over more and more. Sometimes they sought advice, sometimes they just wanted someone who would listen and share life with them. Then, after watching many of the Lost Boys struggle and come clean, she had to face the fact her son was using heroin. As she helped him get clean, she had to face hard questions about her parenting, what lead to the addiction, and what God was doing in the whole process.

James could have written this book as a conventional autobiography or a Christian living book, a format that took all the hard experiences and reduced them to clean, simple answers. She chose instead to take a creative nonfiction approach, jumping back and forth along the timeline and focusing more on capturing the experiences than on giving easy takeaways for each one. This is appropriate since, as James points out several times, there aren’t many simple answers to why young people become drug addicts. Heroin claims clean-looking, suburban kids like James’ son as well as dysfunctional inner-city kids. James bravely takes readers into her dark, confusing story and while it’s certainly hard much of the time, moments of grace shine through the entire book. At the end, readers get a powerful sense of what it feels like to fight a seemingly perpetual battle and then realize redemption was there in the most unexpected ways.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 out of 5 stars

Suggested Audience

Christians who enjoy creative nonfiction about overcoming difficult battles or are interested in an inside look at how drug addiction impacts families.

Christian Impact

This book will shake up the easy answers people may have about drug addiction, showing them that the real answers never come easy and that God’s grace is sufficient to handle that reality.

A Prayer for Orion: A Son's Addiction and a Mother's Love

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  1. | Blood from a StoneEvangelical Church Library Association - November 3, 2022

    […] fit the Christian living side of IVP’s catalog, but they also publish memoirs, and like IVP’s A Prayer for Orion, this is a memoir in the fullest sense. There are spiritual lessons, but McHugh also dives into his […]

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