Book review: Thando Pato’s On the Rocks

On the Rocks

Memoir of a high-functioning alcoholic

Thando Pato

Melinda Ferguson Books

Review: Voox Sonandzi

Thando is a Cape Town-born young woman working in the hustle and bustle of the City of Gold.

At the beginning, she is the epitome of a successful, independent, career-driven and a blessed black woman who seems to have her life all figured out.

Despite the drinking problem, she seems to have everything going smoothly: a satisfying job and all the perks that come with it.

Her affinity with grog does not seem worrisome until she uncovers how much of a problem it is. Not only to herself but also those around her.

I was greatly amused by the oxymoronic aspect of drinking while on chemo, and I completely understand why and how this separated the people in her life. As a career-driven woman of her calibre, it must have taken courage to declare such a personal struggle.

I thus commend Thando for her courage, not only with regards to her drinking problem, but how she depicts her life as a continuous journey of ups and downs in different aspects: family, social relationships, in intimacy, health and career-wise.

While reading, there were times where I silently retorted on her behalf and muttered, “Not another personal set-back again.” So, to me she is a true “Shero” because she seems to continue to withstand the challenges that life presents her with.

A great take-away for me from this book is that life has no destination: it makes and keeps no promises. It is a reminder that mental health is the foundation of all forms of health, and when we neglect it, the other forms of health collapse too. Secondly, even though money is not always a solution, it can definitely minimise the sting of some of our problems, and if it fails, our social capital is key. It is beautiful to witness how Thando’s social network carried her through.

I would recommend this book to women from all walks of life. Thando is relatable, and her feminine energy shines through and brightens her darkest moments. She seems like that sister or aunt every girl dreams of having.

Even though I can imagine there are certain aspects of her journey that must have been difficult to revisit, and write about, she has challenged herself and got her story across as honestly as she could. Her bravery and sense of humour makes the most daunting encounters seem more navigable.

To me, she is imperfectly perfect and has lived life to the fullest, and I hope one can learn something from this.

Her authenticity, appropriate selectivity and bravery inspires.

Like her, may we all be aware of our pressing challenges and may her fighting spirit compel and inspire us – it’s never too late.