Friday, June 29, 2018

Twelve Steps to Normal, by Farrah Penn

Sent away to live with her Aunt for a year while her father was in an alcohol recovery program, Kira is finally coming back home.  Dad has been discharged and as Kira comes back, she hopes to recover the way things used to be (without the drinking of course).

But so much has changed.  Her friends have grown distant and moved on.  Her former boyfriend is now dating one of her former friends.  And Dad, while no longer drinking, surrounds himself with his fellow recoverees, and Kira feels shut out.  He’s even invited them to come live with him, which Kira resents.  All of this is aggravated by Kira's unresolved hurt and anger at her father. To articulate her problems, Kira drafts up her own “twelve steps,” which list out the changes that she feels will help her recover the (normal) past.  Of course, it is not that simple.

Entertaining read but generally predictable and formulaic.  There are some nice characters like her father’s friends, but most of the roles are overly familiar tropes (the not-so-nice ex-, the sweet boy she always should have loved, the ineffectual Dad, etc.).  It was a pleasant read but didn’t add much to the genre.  That said, what it did do well is address the issue of the impact of addiction on family.  Not just through Kira and her Dad, but also through the other recoverees, Penn effectively discusses the anger and grief of losing a family member to addiction.

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