With the introduction of Maddie’s father, and the perhaps life-changing character which is Stewart, there are signs the book will start to pick up. Especially since, with Stewart’s appearance, the diary style of the book is starting to have longer chapters.
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Summary (with Commentary)
In this chapter, we meet the newest roommates of Maddie which includes a woman named Margarita, who shot her husband, and a rich lady who, despite dressing frumpy, still makes sure to make her hair and makeup look nice. As for Maddie, not much is said about her besides what goes on in her session with Cynthia in which she is told to not be so judgmental. Though considering how she talks about everyone, and how she acts toward people, I doubt that will happen anytime soon.
After spending almost no time talking about Maddie, and getting to know her, we learn that her dad is a former NASA Engineer, a former Solar Energy businessman, and now a consultant. Also, they have a decent relationship. Not one which is life changing and highly influential, but significant enough that she makes it seem she and him are cool. Something which cannot be said when it comes to the roommates mentioned in Chapter 10. For with Margarita snoring, and the rich lady and her having words, it seems she continues to go against Cynthia’s recommendations. Though, per her not becoming physically violent with the rich lady, we learn that she is mostly talk without alcohol in her system.
Vern, our resident odd gay guy, has left the rehab facility. Don’t worry, though, we are told he will be back eventually, he is a reoccurring offender. Though with him leaving comes Stewart, a 19-year-old guy who looks like a rock star, but is just as much recovering as the rest of the inhabitants. As for what he is recovering from? Well, that has yet to be revealed. What is known though is that Maddie is absolutely falling for him. Now, whether she could snag him, though, well she may have to clean up her looks and attitude for that.
After a brief introduction in chapter 11, her dad shows up and takes her out from the rehab for a little while. During that time, he talks about her going back to school, which isn’t an option to her, so the idea of a GED is brought up. Something that the dad is leery on, and seemingly the mother is mostly against. But considering how stubborn Maddie has shown herself to be, and how she seemingly just gets along with her dad but has 0 problems pissing off her mom, likely the GED route will be something she tries for awhile. I can’t say if the method will be the one which leads to her degree, though. For right now all we know about is Maddie’s attitude, not so much her intelligence.
Being that Stewart is hot, and it has been awhile since she has been with anyone, it seems she is daydreaming perhaps about being with him. Thing is, though, it has never really worked out for her. Also, as per her Trish conversation, she has never been with someone without being under the influence. Leading you to wonder if Stewart maybe the one who will introduce her to love without drugs or alcohol? Or if loving him maybe her newest addiction, and perhaps just as destructive as the substances she was used to.
As Stewart becomes a stronger focus in the book, the chapters become longer, Maddie seemingly becomes less abrasive, but with her changing comes the question: Can Stewart create a permanent change in her or will he be a short-term reason to avoid finding a long-term solution to her problems/ addictions?
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
In chapter 15 we learn Maddie is pale, meaning white, has blotchy skin, has gained around 8 pounds since coming to the rehab center, but damn if she isn’t going to still try to be presentable for Stewart. Especially since movie day has come and she sees this as her one true opportunity. Unfortunately, though, for most of the night, either Stewart is quiet or taken by the older people on the bus who seem to adore him.
Though, in Chapter 16, she gets her chance to finally get to talk to him just long enough for them to arrange a hangout session. Something talked about in the next chapter.
Being that Maddie is happy, it means she is now productive. She gets through her job in the laundry room, times everything to the T, and arrives at the Rite Aid a little early. Something which perhaps she shouldn’t have done for Stewart ends up late, and when I say late I mean he shows up within 10-20 minutes of closing time. However, being that Maddie’s hopes weren’t that high since Stewart is older and, in her mind, too cool for her anyway, she was numb to the idea of him not showing. Though she is quite thankful he did, no matter how awkward the two of them together are.
As Maddie opens up more and, for a lack of a better term, becomes more vulnerable, if not girly, I feel like we are finally getting somewhere with her. For while the idea of a boy turning her life around isn’t the best way, or reason, for her to perhaps take rehab seriously, it does have potentially good storylines. Especially to me since I don’t know Blake Nelson’s writing style so Stewart very well could become the love of Maddie’s life, then he relapses, and then he dies. Though at the same time, there could be a happy turn in which they find strength through each other and this becomes quite the love story.
However, considering how the book has been presented thus far, I doubt we will get either of the two extremes. Leaving me to wonder where these two could end up. Thus making me, finally, interested in Maddie’s character.
Despite the bit of progress, we are getting, I’m still wondering if this book has a slow build, or perhaps it flickers like a dying light. For with Maddie not being the best central character, and no one else, but now Stewart, getting any sort of development, it makes me feel like the book has it where either you have to be in for the long haul or give up while the getting is good. Which I don’t feel like doing, giving up that is, but I continuously ask myself that if this wasn’t becoming a TV show, starring actors from Skins, would I keep reading this? If only because, unlike a lot of books I read, it isn’t like I’m finding quotes chapter after chapter, or that I have found myself latching onto any character. More so, I’m imagining how Jessica Sula will play Maddie; how Sebastian De Souza, assumingly, will play Stewart; and how Kyla Pratt, Sharon Leal, and Lindsay Pearce will play into things. Though things are slightly getting better, so maybe I’ll learn to love the book with time.
Things To Note
Maddie gets a bit jealous of everyone taking Stewart’s time, and swapping “war stories” in chapter 15, and she reveals to us that she did painkillers, hash, snorted coke, slept with her drug dealer, and was thrown out of her house.