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In the course of my career in clinical social work, I met a number of people who were seemingly living dissolute and wasted lives. But against this backdrop of darkness, I’d sometimes see a flicker of altruism and compassion alive in them, the urge toward kindness. I met others who, by most estimations, were hopelessly psychotic. Yet, they’d astound me with their moments of clarity and wisdom.

I found this contrast of light and darkness to be fascinating. To me, there is nothing more striking than a spark of goodness in a degenerate life, or a moment of brilliance in a disordered mind.

Several decades ago, I had a friend who made poor life decisions on a daily basis. She was one of the most self-sabotaging people I have ever known. But she loved me in a way that few others have loved me. Many years after her misspent life led to an early death, I still hold her love close to my heart. And it is in honor of her and all the others who have seemingly ruined their lives, but who still turn toward goodness, beauty, and truth, that I wrote A.K.A. Suzette.

In this book, Suzette straddles a line between profound spiritual insight and flat-out craziness. In spite of her own downward spiral, her love and wisdom make a permanent imprint on the lives of those she touches. Anyone would consider Tommy Crawford to be a lost cause, the kind of guy you should steer clear of. If given a half a chance, he’ll wreck your life and take you down with him. But in the love letters he writes, we see his longing for beauty and goodness.

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