Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Recovery Road by Blake Nelson

Mad Dog Maddie....that's what people called her when she got wasted.  Her alter-ego comes out and there's no stopping her.  That's why she's at Spring Meadows for eight weeks.  Her parents sent her there to dry up but how can she even try when it's like living in her worst nightmare?  She shares her space Jenna and Angela, but it's Trish that she's drawn to, and a friendship begins to develop. 

The girls share their stories, as well as their lives inside rehab.  They go to the movies together, confide in each other, and work to make it out.  Trish's rehab stint is nearly over, but the two promise they'll continue their friendship outside the walls of Spring Meadows.  After Trish leaves, Maddie is on her own....until she meets Stewart. 

There is no mingling between patients in Spring Meadows, but Maddie can't help it.  During the rest of her time there, she and Stewart become close, unlike any other person she's ever been with.  Maddie also knows she's putting her personal demons aside and vows to hold onto sobriety.  Life right now looks so much different and feels so much better than she could have imagined.  But now it's her time to leave...and also leave Stewart behind.  Again, another promise is made outside of rehab...

But it's those promises Trish, Stewart and Maddie make to each other that become problematic in the real world.  Maddie's friendship with Trish starts out well, but slowly takes a downward spiral when Trish tries to push past the damage she's done.  Maddie's family life is still hard for her to handle, but going back to school and trying to make it past the whispers and rumors is the most difficult.  And when Stewart gets out of rehab, it's into his arms that Maddie runs.

Sometimes though, the things you run from are the things you should run away from.  Maddie's life is a completely different one than when she left it to go into recovery.  Things are beginning to become clearer, including her wanting to graduate, making new friends instead of the ones she got into trouble with, and her love for Stewart.  Real life gets in the way, and are the lessons and treatment at Spring Meadows enough to keep Maddie's life in synch or will she turn again to the demons in order to cope with the stress she faces?

Blake Nelson is an author who crosses bounderies in genres.  This novel is realistically portrayed not only through the characters and their interactions, but also the situations each character finds themselves in.  A powerful story begins to unfold in parallel worlds pre and post rehab.  Blake doesn't sugarcoat Maddie's experience, but writes with gritty realism that resonates throughout the book.  Nelson gets the reader down to the level of the characters, and this is what makes this a remarkable YA book that flows and will quickly take the reader along for the journey. 

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