“High On Arrival” by Mackenzie Phillips {Book Review} #2012readingchallenge

Mackenzie Phillips and High On Arrival ~

High on ArrivalHigh on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wow. I think this was definitely the hardest autobiography I have ever read. I can’t even really decide what my opinion is on this book. At moments I loved it and at moments I just felt so bad for Mackenzie that I had a hard time getting through the rest of the book. And yes, sometimes I wanted to knock some sense into her.


She had such a horrible childhood, raised by her totally useless father (except to music, he was John Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas) who really didn’t care what she did as long as she didn’t ruin his high. Other useless characters in this book are Mick Jagger who seduced Mackenzie at age 18 and said something to the effect that he had been “watching and waiting for her” since like age 10. Creeper much? Also, Keith Richards, who drove a car with a juvenile Mackenzie in the backseat at 125 miles per hour.

I really don’t know anything about this family as I am not a fan of The Mamas and The Papas (I like one song, total, and I don’t much care for that one now either) and I never watched “One Day at a Time.” I did like Wilson Phillips (Mackenzie’s sister Chynna was a member of this group), though.

Essentially, Mackenzie was raised in a drug filled home. And by “drug filled,” I mean hypodermic needles all over the floor and pills and cocaine stashed everywhere. I feel so bad that she was raised in this environment. Part of me feels that she had no choice but to grow up and be an addict herself, since that was all she ever saw or knew. Mackenzie did end up cleaning up her act a couple of times. She was even sober for like 15 years one time. I think she is sober now, too.

Mackenzie also had an incestuous relationship with her father for many years. At some points she calls it consensual and at others she calls it rape. Whatever it was, it was wrong and her dad was sick. At one point, she even aborted a fetus that could have been his. Gosh. How do you even wrap your head around that? Several of her family members have called her a liar since she made this allegation public and publicly disowned her.¬†Michelle Phillips is one of the people publicly calling her a liar. Michelle Phillips was part of the scene when Mackenzie was given drugs at such a young age so I think she should just shut up. I believe Mackenzie. This book paints Mackenzie in a horrible light and I can’t see what she would stand to gain from it, so I can’t see why she would lie.

I hope that by writing this memoir, she finds some kind of peace.


2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge

Dawn has read 12 books toward her goal of 60 books.




About Dawn McAlexander

Dawn is a full time travel and lifestyle blogger. Besides Cheap Is The New Classy, she also owns and writes for EatPlayRock.com, an entertainment site. Her interests include traveling, home decor, DIY projects, organizing her home and enjoying a nice cup of coffee {or two}. She currently resides in North Carolina with her dog, Daisy.


  1. I saw her on Oprah last year sometime, she was talking about this book and her life in general. It must have been so difficult for her to share this, but therapeutic too.

    I may download this to my Kindle!

  2. How sad! Stories like this make me so grateful for the childhood I had.

  3. PS. I won’t be buying anymore Wilson Phillips CDs because of the way Chynna has acted over this, either. Such an ignorant family to treat her like this (rumor has it they are going on tour or making a new album soon).


  4. I feel grateful for my parents after reading this review, thank you for sharing!

  5. Don’t like sad books. Does make me feel appreciative to what I have had though

  6. I’ve had this book on my shelf for awhile. It sounds like such an emotional, heavy read. I definitely want to read it soon though.

  7. I just read.the.book. so horrific. Off heroin 22 yrs..I know that monkey..but what a chase that was. I.see Mick Jagger almost.as.a.pedephile..her.father..one sick mother fucker..and michelle Phillips is.a.cancer. anyone denying this truth.should.receive.some.serious.karma…in a not so good way. I’m a survivor.too.mack…miss Laura..bless you and your beautiful son Shane..and those loving u thru the journey…peace

    • You know, after I read this, I saw Mackanzie on an episode of Hoarders {or something similar} and they were cleaning out her house, namely anything that reminded her of her addictions and her dead father. She called one of her sisters several times to come pick up a piece of furniture {Bijou, maybe} and she finally said she would, after what seemed like a ton of begging on Mackenzie’s part. It is crap how her family has done her. I am glad her son was by her side, cause she sure didn’t seem to have any other family worth anything. I wish you and Mackenzie tons of luck and good thoughts on your journey. Thanks for sharing.

      I used to love Wilson Phillips. I kept this incident in mind when they released their last CD and chose not to purchase it.


  8. Too bad John Phillips isn’t still alive to comment on this sordid and salacious read…So Mackenzie is a lifelong junkie who leaves behind a trail of broken promises, promiscuity and shame. By her own account she is unemployable…how nice that she can at least haul in some hard cash spilling her guts about her 10 year sexual affair with her father…and of course the entire book is the gospel truth…afterall a junkie would never lie to make money…right? If you enjoy an incoherent journey through the hippie drug culture that includes name dropping and self pity…this is a must read.

    • She could have just name dropped and told all kinds of stories {like the one with Jagger} to sell books. This one seems a bit much just for drug money, don’t you think?


      • I agree. The story is TOO revealing and places her in a serious bad light for me to believe it is not true. My husband would disagree, but I feel this shows an emotional ode of a kid looking for her “dad” and of the demon she found instead. I believe her.

        • I believe her, too. Yeah, she could write a tell-all for drug money, but most tell-alls leave the writer looking better than everyone else. That’s clearly not the case here.


          • Amen. All through the book she tells a tale and she seems to share responsibility for her choices calling it consensual incest… If she wanted just a woe is me story, to manipulate people for drug money, I think the book would not have been so balanced. I think it would have sounded more like a victim. Even though she was a victim, telling the facts of her life it was not done so in a bitter, please send me money kind of way. And the fact that she waited until he died is typical for someone who has been under the “spell” “rule” or “control” of another human being. It is very common. I do not think it was calculated as much as once he was dead she started to catharticly began to be able to talk, without having to deal with his wrath or disappointment for her not keeping “the dirty secret”. Many girls who were sexual abused or manipulated feel they cannot open their mouth as they are programmed to think the sky will fall in on them… So, they keep the secret and it actually keeps them dirty. Once you can clean out your closet and it is no longer a dirty secret, healing can take place. I do not believe she wrote it for money as much as I believe she wrote it for survival.

  9. Mackenzie had her childhood hijacked by a selfish, irresponsible, untrustworthy, poor excuse of a human being, also known to her as “Dad”. Having to go to an island with the “band” while they got high, had sex and wrote music, at the tender age of “6” is shocking and detrimental enough. To have them not FEED her to the end that she walked a long way to ask people for food as she was hungry, is beyond irresponsible but is criminal and all of them should have been up on charges of neglect, abuse, unfit environment and child endangerment. Then, she comes back to the “band” having some extra fruit she was given by people who felt bad for her, and her father and the other assholes ATE the FOOD she had for herself. She provided for them, at the age of 6! Then, they asked her to go back out and beg some more for additional food.

    John would rent homes and not pay the rent. He did not have food in the house for his daughter and had accessible drugs through-out the house. To say they were a despicable horrors is to offer them a compliment. Having no moral compass, no boundaries offered by her “role model” father, and left to raise herself amidst her fathers renown friends, she had a free fall into destructive habits and dangerous lifestyle choices.

    It is NOT name dropping if these are the people with whom she was surrounded, much like if I told my story of names of the people involved would be insignificant as they were people in my life. Her life rotated around the names of people we all knew publicly and she should not be chastised or dismissed because she speaks of them, as they are significant to her story of internal misery and lousy choices, just because we have heard of them. It is HER life.

    The internal conflict made between feeling bad and devalued by her father vs. her need to defend and still love him is rather common in tales of a Father figure acting deplorably and yet the kids NEED to find a reason to still love them. I do not think she shifted from her tale of woe to then speaking of his music writing attributes because SHE was lying… but her father was a blend of vomit, disgusting behaviors and strong musical abilities which significantly had her rotate inside herself, as an inner tornado, causing mush self destruction.

    However, when she was straight for 10 years and went BACK into “the life” then, it became her decision, her responsibility, her choice and she is responsible for her continued free fall into depravity.
    I feel badly for her and the little girl who only wanted a Dad. I feel, as an adult, fully educated on the disease of drug abuse, sexual misconduct and the epicurean lifestyle, she walked into it KNOWING the outcome. She choose to continue her dark descent. And at some point you need to take responsibility for your own life. She reminds me of something a writer wrote years ago, went something like this, “and when the clouds were removed from their eyes and they could see, they chose to follow the clouds.” She had a bad beginning but she alone will be the architect of the remainder of her life and the end of her story.

  10. Jenna M Wood says

    Wow, what a compelling and difficult read- I often question the genuine aspect of autobigraphies, but in this case I think it was more therapeutic to confess, than anything.

  11. What a sad way to grow up! Hopefully she will find healing soon!

  12. It is a tough call when a person grows up like this and there is a lot of mental things a person has to work through when they have suffered from this type of abuse but there are several people that have made a life fro themselves without repeating the mistakes of their parents or explaining their actions through a book. At one point you have to take responsibility for your own actions before you can heal.

  13. Shakes little blonde head…so sad..so incredibly warpped on so many levels

  14. I don’t feel like I can really comment on the content of the book not having read the book. Though I doubt I will ever read the book now that I have read the review as I just have no desire to actually read about these events in detail. Or gt that intimate with any specific person or group from the music scene. The truth is though that drugs were a part of the music culture then. While I am sure that someone can point to a group and say they never did anything ever those would have been few and far between. It seemed to be the way most musicians dealt with the world (or not dealt with reality) then and some still do use drugs to deal with the world.
    What I can’t imagine is that there were no adults in her life (grandparents aunts uncles a roadie anyone really) that could have taken her out of the situation (or had her taken out of the situation) if her dad really was that much of a dead beat. Plus you would think that it would be easier if a family member stepped up for her dad to leave her behind and live his life with fans and groupies without her.
    Not sure what to make of it other then it is obviously a controversial book and controversy sells.

  15. This sounds like a very emotional book but I am intrigued to read it now!

  16. eesh sounds like a crazy emotional book!

  17. I haven’t read the book but I have heard most of the stories and yes I can believe that it occurred, living the type of lifestyle they were “back in the day”, sure it happened to many who just have not wrote a book. Sad!

  18. I heard some of the stories, never read the book though. It is sad what some people have to go through growing up. Parents are supposed to protect their kids with everything they have, it breaks my heart when I hear that it does not happen.

  19. From what I know about her, and her history, I find much of this book a joke to be honest. It seems like something she would concoct to score some last semblance of fame off a scandal that the “offending party” can’t deny.

    • Thankfully, we will probably never know to be sure. Even if it is all a lie – imagine what kind of messed up childhood one would have to have had to feel that it’s okay to make stuff up like that. Sad.

      Even if some of these stories are lies, I think it is obvious that something really bad happened to her.


  20. Sounds like a sad book, but I love reading all different kinds of books! I will check it out! THANKS! Building my list of To-Read for 2013!

  21. Kelley Johnsen says

    I also have a hard time reading books, but this sounds like a good read. Thanks for the review.

  22. That just sounds awful. I could never read something like that.


  1. […] be playing – which took me back to another person’s tragic childhood story – Mackenzie Phillips. Image Credit: Christine […]