Recovery Road
by Nelson, Blake

While she is in a rehabilitation facility for drug and alcohol abuse, seventeen-year-old Maddie meets Stewart, who is also in treatment, and they begin a relationship, which they try to maintain after they both get out.

Madeline is starting junior year in rehab. She hates the losers surrounding her-all except Trish. Soon the two are escaping the halfway house every Tuesday to go to the movies with other recovering addicts. It is here that Madeline meets Stewart, another recovering addict, and the two teens are immediately drawn together. What follows is a story about being in love while trying to survive sobriety. Eventually, the two are released from rehab and must return to their previous lives; for Madeline that means returning to school and her old friends and routines. Her struggle to stay sober and find a new path is realistic and the strength of the story. Her relationship with Stewart, on the other hand, has the expected narrative ups and downs. When a tragedy strikes, Madeline is left to figure out what she really wants from life and how Stewart fits into her plans. Spanning over three years, the book finds its biggest fireworks in the first half, with the rest proceeding like an extended epilogue. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

High-school badass and party girl "Mad Maddie" lands in rehab after pushing herself over the toxicity limit one too many times. At first her anger and stubbornness make it easy for her to resist the treatments and therapy sessions, but when she meets Stewart, an older, dreamy, floppy-haired resident at movie night, her attitude takes a turn for the better. Nelson then follows her rehabilitation from her re-entry into high school and then into college, packing in lots along the way. Recovery and relapse, love, forgiveness, regret and remembrance make for tough roadblocks along her journey. Each character is sharply drawn—particularly the new friends she makes outside of her old high-school clique. Thematically, the author handles the topic of addiction carefully. Readers know that Maddie and the friends she makes are making bad decisions, and they witness the fallout of addiction as it tears apart the victims' lives and her friends and family. Where the author excels in theme he falls short in plotting, however, and the passage of time from rehab to college feels messy and uneven, with too much packed into the book's slim span of pages. Still, readers will be captivated by the story of Maddie and people in her life, and the strengths and losses that help her succeed. (Fiction. 14-18)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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