Unpacked Sparkle by Patrick A. Roland

Unpacked Sparkle by Patrick A. Roland | Book Review

Title: Unpacked Sparkle
Author: Patrick A. Roland
November 2016 by Az Publishing Services, LLC
Genre: Memoir
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review


Over a year ago, I left a Mariah Carey concert in Las Vegas after six songs. I had gone on the trip as a present to myself for turning forty. But I couldn’t enjoy it. I was high on multiple drugs, but mostly crystal meth, and extremely drunk. I had been this way the majority of the year and a half since my partner Pack had suddenly passed away.
I found him dead on the bathroom floor one January morning while I was getting ready for work. The police told me I had no rights in my own home and asked me to leave. This was before gay marriage became legal. Life as I knew it changed instantly.
His family pretended I didn’t exist. They mauled our home the day he died, leaving it a ravaged mess. I was kicked out of that home. I was also disinvited to his funeral. In eight days I lost everything that mattered. Not even the law protected me from this.
So I got high in an effort to shoulder the pain. It didn’t work. I carried the heavy weight of unresolved complicated grief and addiction on my back. It was like an elephant. A large, unwieldy elephant that wanted me to die.
No longer able to participate in anything that mattered and unwilling to bear this burden anymore, I went back to my hotel room on the twenty-sixth floor of a casino and looked out on the sparkly lights below. I wanted to be in the light. So I opened the window and decided to jump.
But God intervened. My mother had somehow found me. Help came and I surrendered to the powerlessness of my situation. I asked God to help me. I stayed and I fought and I learned how to love myself. I put on a pair of sparkly shoes I had bought for that barely attended concert and I walked in to the rooms of Crystal Meth Anonymous. I had bought the sparkly shoes hoping Mariah would see me in the audience. Though she didn’t get the chance, you did. You all embraced me and my sparkly shoes. They have become my calling card of experience, strength, and hope.

My Review:


I found this book to be interesting right away because I love a good memoir, especially uplifting stories about hope and how others overcome obstacles in their lives. After interviewing the author, I definitely wanted to read the book.


This story is about the author going through recovery from the untimely death of his partner, his addiction to drugs and alcohol, as well as him being mentally ill with bipolar.

I feel as though there’s not much else I can really say about the story more than what the summary has already mentioned about it. It’s a sad story, but uplifting that conveys an important message that you should just read for yourself.


The main character is, of course, the author as he tries to regain control of his life after the death of his partner, Pack. Throughout the course of the story we not only learn a lot about the author, but we get tidbits about Pack as well, among his parents, Pack’s family, and various friends the author has met along the way.

I felt as though we learned just enough about everyone involved in the various situations. The characters were explained in a good way that we got a good sense of their personalities and how important they are to their roles in the author’s life.


I feel as though I know the author in real life. The voice was his own, as it should be, and I got the sense he was telling me his story over a cup of coffee in a cafe. It was personal and there weren’t any lulls in the story that jolted me out of it.

My only complaint was the timeline and the chapter headings/beginnings. The chapter titles were mostly song titles, which is cool since he loves music, but the timeline was jumbled. It would have made more sense to add the dates to the titles. Also because at the beginning to of most chapter, the author rehashed what had happened to Pack so it was just too repetitive.


I thought this was a good read. It was short around 200 pages, but the story got told and I didn’t feel as though anything was left out or that something was left untouched. It was an inspiring read and definitely something everyone should give a read.

Unpacked Sparkle by Patrick A. Roland gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“I even forgave them, because continuing to hate them as they hate me gives them power.” –Patrick A. Roland, Unpacked Sparkle

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Meet Patrick Roland, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Patrick Roland to my blog.

Meet Patrick Roland, Author: An Interview

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

 My name is Patrick Roland. I am a gay, bi-polar, drug addict, alcoholic, widow who is now sober, healthy and happy. I wrote a self-help book about grief and addiction called Unpacked Sparkle. My hope is that my experience, strength and hope will help others unpack their own sparkle and learn to love themselves exactly as they are. I’m still beautifully broken, but I’m joyful and hopeful about it!

How long have you been writing for?

Ironically, the first thing I wrote that got any attention was a poem in the sixth grade about my dog who had died. I won second place in a state poetry contest. Now, 30 years later, I’ve written a book about grief. I’ve been a writer my whole career – mostly journalism – but this subject matter seems to have chosen me.

What is your writing process like?

For this project, I made a list of all the things I wanted to write about and then did so. I didn’t write things in order of how they happened because that isn’t how I think. That’s also not the way they appear in the book. Because grief isn’t linear. Grief is kind of a puzzle that you have to put together, so that’s what I did with this book. The narrative is like a tapestry, weaved together by the friends who kept the lights on for me while my sparkle was dimmed.

I wrote the majority of the book in about 12 days. It poured out of me. But it didn’t feel “done.” I also only had about 100 days of sobriety when I wrote it so I fleshed out the first six months – when it ends – about a year later. There were some key things that happened that became the last three chapters that really completed the puzzle and made everything come together.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I was so inspired when I wrote this book. I wrote it on lunch breaks. I wrote after work. I wrote all weekend long. The same was true of the editing process. I blocked off a week and went to Iowa and sat on a lake – my lifelong dream – and completed the final manuscript.

What motivates you to write?

I was trying to write myself out of pain. Everything that happened to me when my partner died was very traumatic, but as long as it stayed inside me, it was going to haunt me. I became an entirely different person as a result of writing this. I moved from victim to survivor; from pain into power. As I grew as a person, I became motivated to tell my story to help others. I felt like I went through all of this so that I could help the next person not suffer as much as I did. I’m here to say you can overcome whatever you are struggling with. I am living proof. I’m also here to say you are not alone and you are worth it. Loving yourself as you are is the first step to a glorious new life filled with joy and possibility.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I texted my best friend, Megan. We’ve been best friends for 20 years but we were fighting when what happened in the book transpired, so I initially wrote the book to “fill her in.” Plus, when we reunited after our five year hiatus, she had given me some freelance work that was super creative which got me feeling like I could pull this book off. I owe a lot of the success of this to her in a way; so I wanted to have a private moment with her before it became public.

Are you currently working on anything new?

I wrote a children’s book with similar themes that needs to be illustrated and I want to turn Unpacked Sparkle into a screenplay. I so feel like it could be a movie!

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I know I would be helping people. I’d either be a counselor or a pastor or something like that.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

It’s easiest to be honest and it’s hardest not to be. I think that’s why this book poured out of me. It is my truth. It it directly from my heart. I wouldn’t have even done it if it wasn’t honest. It wouldn’t be worth it if it wasn’t.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

Well, it’s not nearly as glamorous as it’s made out to be. And just because you’ve written a book and gotten it published- which is a pretty major accomplishment – it doesn’t automatically mean people are going to care about it. But I think I did something amazing – and my friends and recovery community have really embraced me – and that’s beautiful.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

I’m probably most inclined to read a self-help memoir because I am always interested to learn about other people and how they overcame things they thought they couldn’t. There is something very intimate and human about that – and that’s what I was going for with Unpacked Sparkle. So somewhere along the way, I was inspired by say Maya Angelou or Augusten Burroughs and I decided that I wanted to be as open and brave and free as they were, and I was.

I also love Toni Morrison. She doesn’t write memoirs per say but her words move me to my core.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. If you believe in yourself and love yourself as you are, you will be successful. It all starts with you!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Always remember this: “The very things you are the most afraid of are the very things that bring the most growth. It’s in facing those intimidating and unrelenting fears that we become who we are. The other side of fear is always a miracle. Magic isn’t created when you are comfortable, it manifests when you are not.”

About Patrick

A new voice in self-help, author Patrick A. Roland, in partnership with Az Publishing Services, has released his new memoir about grief and recovery, Unpacked Sparkle, now available on Amazon.
Unpacked Sparkle chronicles Roland’s transformative journey upon finding his partner Pack dead in January 2014. It begins on the day of the funeral that he was uninvited to by Pack’s homophobic family and details the nearly two-year journey back to a now thriving, joy-filled life he experienced after attempting to jump out of a twenty-six-story Vegas casino after a weekend of intended Britney Spears and Mariah Carey concerts that he mostly missed in the throes of grief and addiction. He was instead hospitalized there after his mother miraculously found him. There, he began to take the vital steps necessary to take back control over his life.
The book discusses addiction and the recovery from it, grief and the journey to acceptance that ensued, the family dynamics and DNA that resulted in a life-saving bi-polar diagnosis, and the importance of civil rights and marriage equality. This miraculous journey is threaded together by a tapestry of amazing friends who helped him find his way back to happiness, as well as signs from beyond that his partner is still with him spiritually, even though his body is not.
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