BY ESTHER J. CEPEDA
CHICAGO • Ever get the feeling that women are collectively crying out for help but no one is listening?
Scan the landscape of entertainment aimed at women and you'll find a theme: alcohol dependency.
Some of it is portrayed as fun — there is a whole craft industry dedicated to "Wine O'Clock" and #WineWednesday home decor, and celebrities like Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb shamelessly glamorize early morning drinking on their "Today" show — but it's increasingly desperate.
Take Paula Hawkins' hit novel (and soon-to-be blockbuster movie) "The Girl on the Train." I picked up the book based on reviews that said it was "the next 'Gone Girl.'" It was not.
Alas, it turned out to be melodrama revolving around an alcoholic woman's unraveling, her gin-fueled blackout providing the mystery's convenient device. It wasn't nearly as entertaining as promised, unless of course you are drawn to stories about women who tear their own and others' lives apart via alcoholism.
In the land of reality, there are two separate memoirs on The New York Times hardcover best-seller list right now that will surely not eclipse the popularity of "Girl on the Train" but deserve some major play for their frank and bracing descriptions of what alcohol can do to smart, high-achieving women.
ABC News journalist Elizabeth Vargas' book "Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction," starts out painfully, with an introduction detailing her crushing, everyday anxiety — a state of low-grade terror that leads to her ever-present prayer: "Dear God, I need a drink."