Blake Nelson’s latest YA novel, Recovery Road, is a novel about a journey.
At the opening of the book, high school junior Maddie is being committed to a rehab facility after a drunken car accident. The story gets going a few weeks later once she’s in the transitional program nearing her release. On one of the weekly movie nights that the patients in the transitional program are allowed to leave the facility to attend, Maddie meets Stewart, a beautiful but remote guy about her age. Their attraction is instantaneous and soon they are finding ways to be together whenever they can. Once Maddie is back home to resume her junior year of high school, she isolates herself from the bad influences that lead her to addiction in the first place, and she waits anxiously for Stewart’s release. Over the next 3 years, Stewart and Maddie are drawn together and pulled apart as their choices, addictions, and circumstances rise and fall. And through it all, Maddie works to discover who she wants to be, what she wants her future to hold, and what’s most important to her in life.
Recovery Road is insightful, painful at times, and ultimately uplifting as Maddie slowly emerges from the anger, bad influences, and destructive choices that could have cost her her life. This book is all about making choices and either facing or running away from the consequences. Nelson fills Maddie’s life with many examples of people either choosing to live their lives head-on or losing themselves in denial and addiction. As much as Maddie sees herself in Stewart, finds a deep understanding and connection with him, not to mention her strong attraction to him, she also comes to realize that she has to choose whether they can make a healthy life together or if he’s beyond her power to save. It’s a sobering (pun intended) look at the complicated transition to adulthood when there are no clear signposts to follow; but in the end, Nelson does a credible job with Maddie, Stewart, and the other young adults on this journey.
- Posted by Cori