In 1968, Ed was a 39-year-old African American parolee, heroin addict, and sometimes jazz singer from Watts, California. Diane was a naïve 24-year-old Jewish girl from the Bronx...
People said they had no business being together, and their many troubled years of marriage, divorce, reconciliation, more separation and ultimate bottoming out seemed to prove them right—almost. Double Helix is an intensely evocative and unsentimental story told in alternating narrative voices that follows the turbulent, decades-long journey of two people from different worlds whose lives, continually spiraling around each other like a double helix, are really two intertwined stories.
Double Helix traces Ed’s years of addiction, incarceration, treatment programs, and homelessness, along with Diane’s struggle to balance her instinct to support and help Ed with her inability to hold him accountable, learning that loving an addict can be just as harrowing as being one. Double Helix conveys a compelling message—not only is change possible, but it is never too late to realize your dreams.
The conversational back-and-forth between the two on these points is illuminative and equitable... a union of smart, funny, briskly thinking originators. ... If you didn’t know Ed or Diane Reed before Double Helix, you’ll be glad you met them. And if you’re familiar with their story, read for the details, hard and happy, and find Ed’s records for the perfect sweet-and-sour background accompaniment.
A.D. Amorosi, JazzTimes
Sometimes in music, life happens. That's the case with Double Helix., which tells the story of why the career of Ed Reed, a professional jazz singer from the San Francisco Bay Area, didn’t take off until he was in his late 70s. Battling addiction led him down wrong track after wrong track, including four stints in prison. Diane Reed’s story of the journey struggles with codependence and recovery, too. That said, this book has a beautiful silver lining.
Digging Deep Into Books, DownBeat
[Ed Reed's] writing, like his music, is unguardedly candid, confessionally deep, and profoundly moving.
Daniel King, Mother Jones
It reads like a great jazz gig: call and response, maybe not knowing the changes and improvising, blowin’ some clams, not knowing how the tune might end, but trusting the musicians to take you there. All that’s left after every falsehood has been peeled away is love and music—and two lives well examined.
Alisa Clancy, KCSM