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Jennifer Weiner takes on "pill problems" in "All Fall Down"

Her latest book is about a working mother and wife whose world falls apart after she gets hooked on prescription drugs
Jennifer Weiner on new novel "All Fall Down," sexism in book industry 05:29

Author Jennifer Weiner's new book, "All Fall Down," is being heralded as one of her best works.

"Not just by my Nana," she said.

The plot, which revolves around a working mother and wife whose world falls apart because of a "pill problem," was inspired by experiences drawn from her own life, which was "touched by the disease of addiction," she said.

"My dad and my mom split up in this like horrific, burn-the-ground-and-salt-the-earth divorce when I was a teenager, and I didn't see my dad for many, many years. And then he died in 2008, and my siblings and I learned that he'd been addicted to crack and addicted to heroin," Weiner said.

The news took her by surprise.

"My dad was a doctor. We lived in the suburbs. The house had a pool. We went on vacations. It was the last thing I thought, and discovering it was really hard," Weiner said. "It just makes me think like, how do you get from here to there, how do you get from a life that looks like the life everyone wants to dying in a bathroom? It was awful."

Weiner, a former newspaper reporter, said the topic of prescription pill addiction is prevalent in modern society.

"You can't pick up People [Magazine], you can't pick up The New York Times, you can't pick up your local paper without reading about this. Without reading about women who, they take one Vicodin and feels good. They take two, it feels great. And then they're doctor shopping or they're buying pills online, or trading with their friends. I heard about, like in the gym locker room, 'You've got Xanax, I've got Oxy. Let's make each other happy,'" Weiner said.

In writing "All Fall Down," which is published by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS, Weiner was seeking a challenge.

"When you write 11 books, at least if you're me, you don't want to keep doing the same thing over and over and over. You want to push yourself. And so I wanted to talk about obviously an important topic and sort of go to darker places but also have some laughs in there. So I hope that's what I did," Weiner said.

Despite being a regular on the New York Times bestseller list and having fans in 36 countries who own nearly 12 million copies of her books, it was the first time her book was reviewed in the New York Times.

"It was a real thrill after years of sort of like banging on their door and saying, 'You need to cover more women, review more women, have more women reviewers,'" Weiner said.

As a vocal critic of gender bias in media, and she said she was also thrilled that the 2014 VIDA counts, which tallies gender disparity in book reviews and major literary publications, showed the first year the New York Times had more female book reviewers than men.

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