Part 7 features a stumble for Maddie, but not her outright falling. Though with her stumble comes the question of what could trigger her going off the rails, or even if perhaps she must abstain from alcohol altogether? After all, Maddie loves a good party and avoiding alcohol, as well as drugs, may have been something she has avoided countless times before, but it seems as time wears on, she is experiencing minor setbacks which are building up.
Chapter Summaries (with Commentary)
Chapter 1: And then I drink
With all that has happened thus far, and yet Maddie hasn’t touched a bottle, it seems Stewart officially moving on, with it seeming like his relationship won’t end no time soon, might be what broke Maddie. Though perhaps saying she is/ was broken might be taking it a bit far. If only because, while she slips back into an old habit, and sings Stewart’s name once she leaves the party, you have to recognize the girl is more prone to suppressing her issues than addressing them. I mean, just take for instance her almost being raped when she saved Stewart. To me, perhaps the unofficial reason Maddie had a drinking, sex, and drug problem, is because she likes to suppress her feelings and drown herself with distractions.
Hence why she had the type of friends she did and even had a friend like Trish. Not just because she was lonely, but she needs people who either have exciting lives like Emily or have way too much going on like Trish or Stewart. Those people help her escape from her own life, and since all of those would be vices have become unavailable, the old go to was taken off the bench.
Chapter 2: I’m just sad now and crying and drunk and useless like I always was, like I always will be.
Though far from sober, as noted before, alcohol for Maddie, seemingly at first, helps her escape. However, it seems once she doesn’t have a consistent supply going down her throat, those suppressed thoughts bubble to the surface. Thus leading to Trish, Ashley, and even Stewart coming to mind. For, in many ways, she feels bad still about being unable to save the two, and perhaps her relationship with Stewart. Yet, being that Stewart is the only one she can really call on at times like this, she rings him up.
Chapter 3: “It happens…”
Perhaps the main thing worth noting here is how she says “There’s a whole lot of stuff in there that needs to come out. And it does.” Which, unfortunately, doesn’t lead to us hearing her talk to Stewart about her guilt and everything, but at least it makes it seem like she maybe on her way to opening up. Something which increasingly seems to become a need or else these stumbles may become full on falls. Maybe even worse.
Chapter 4: “[…] We can send you back to Spring Meadow.”
It’s the morning after, and Maddie is in a t-shirt and panties, and sleeping in Kristen and Stewart’s bed. Stewart is off at Starbucks getting coffee, and Kristen watches over Maddie. Which, as you can imagine, makes Maddie uncomfortable. I mean, let’s begin with the fact she does not remember perhaps anything after crying into Stewart’s shirt, and next thing she knows she has Kristen looking at her.
In the end, though, nothing much happens here besides us getting the first taste of Maddie’s mom being worried about her, and Stewart being pissed. Which, in my mind, is a bit of an odd thing to picture. If only because they have made him seem like a shy rocker type for so long, that imagining him pissed is difficult yet amusing. Either way, he is pushing for AA and Maddie’s mom is already talking about another Spring Meadow stay. Something Maddie isn’t for what so ever.
Chapter 5: I don’t even know if I mean this, but I say it anyway.
Maddie is a bit of a confusing young lady. As noted, she has unresolved issues, yet doesn’t really explore ways to deal with them in a healthy manner. I mean, one could argue her hardcore studying was a means of dealing with her issues in a healthy way, but then it seemed, in a moment, that method no longer was enough and there was no secondary savior.
But what matters here is that, in a way, Maddie has come to accept she has lost Stewart as a potential boyfriend and has come to terms that Kristen is a good person. One which makes an effort to be good for Stewart, and make him happy, and perhaps is at the place in her life where Stewart needs his girlfriend to be. Which isn’t to say Maddie couldn’t get there, but Kristen just seems settled and stable in a way which Maddie isn’t. For Maddie still needs a reason to live, in my opinion, and even with the pursuit of academia, and college only weeks away, there comes that worry that she needs more from Stewart than he can realistically give. As opposed to Kristen who we may not know well, but seems to at least have a job, is capable of getting her own place, and can provide not just love and intimacy, but perhaps guidance to Stewart.
Chapter 6: the Young People’s Meeting
A distraction. A constant need for Maddie is a distraction. Formerly it was alcohol, sex, and drugs, boys as well, and with alcohol being forced off the list, drugs not a better option, and sex with strangers not worth it after experiencing having sex with someone she loved, all that remains are boys. Well, boys and girls whose life are able to consume Maddie’s time and energy.
Enter Antoinette, and a handful of skater boys. All of which who aren’t portrayed to be a real threat to Maddie’s safety or well-being, but you can definitely see they are more of the same. Antoinette is called a train wreck type, and becomes a friend of Maddie, and while she gets some form of normal from a housewife names Susan, considering how little Maddie has sought counseling and attention from well-meaning adults before, who knows if Susan will just become a random name to soon disappear, or perhaps a name which, like Martin, may stick around longer than thought.
As I really push past just looking at these one-page chapters as annoyance, I’m starting to realize more and more that perhaps why Maddie doesn’t talk about the things she thinks about and feels is because she avoids doing so with herself. So, naturally, why would it be shared with us what she feels about when it comes to what messes with her person?
Though it was slightly weird, I liked how Maddie, for a lack of a better way of putting it, gave Kristen her blessing and affirmed she wasn’t trying to mess with her and Stewart’s relationship. It made for a rather cute moment and, with how Kristen has acted since the beginning, you can tell she might have felt a bit threatened by Maddie.
I remain unsure how much Maddie’s parents really care. Granted, her mom recommending Spring Meadow shows they do care about her, but with all that has gone on up until now, and them just now catching on something maybe wrong, it does make you wonder how much do they even monitor, or interact, with Maddie? Perhaps this lack of supervision is why this all has happened?
On The Fence
With Maddie going to AA, yet going to college, so comes the question of whether any of these new names, like Susan and Antoinette, are going to be the new Martin or Emily, or will be like the names we were introduced to at Spring Meadow who don’t get a single mention, even in passing.
Parts 8 & 9
Maddie leaves her old life and begins to hit her stride on recovery road but, as she visits back home, so comes the option for a detail which could possibly stagnate her progress.
Chapter Summaries (with Commentary)
Part 8: “Those people who look so together. They’re as insecure as anyone. Maybe more so. You’re as smart as any of them.”
It’s all about new beginning in Part 8. Maddie has officially left the environment which fostered her addiction and is now a University of Massachusetts student. Something she struggles with at first, since her roommates aren’t her kind of people, but between a film class and a local AA meeting, she finds some people who she can more than just deal with, but be happy around. Though best of all, these people aren’t potentially tragic, or distractions from her own life, but people who are going somewhere, doing something which progresses their lives, and expect the same level of initiative out of Maddie as they do themselves.
Which isn’t me taking a dig at Maddie’s past friends, but even Stewart, who we’ll get to in a second, I wouldn’t say pushed Maddie to be something more. Hell, even though Stewart did try to cover the basics of keeping informed about her life, and getting a job for himself, I am coming to the conclusion that their two different social classes are what ultimately tore them apart. For while Stewart did have more support, Maddie’s privilege, I would argue, was a driving force behind her getting this far. Both in terms of becoming addicted, as well as making it after going for treatment.
Now, in case you’re wondering where is Stewart and how is he? Well, even Kristen doesn’t know that, and they live together. Then, to further push the idea that Maddie is trying to move on from that toxic environment, she only takes Kristen’s call once. For, no matter how friendly Kristen is, the two of them aren’t friends. They share a strong bond with the same guy, and I think Maddie knows just being friends with Stewart would be difficult, so it is better for her to not get involved at all. Thus leading to that conversation with Kristen asking about Stewart’s whereabouts being her last real interaction with anyone who knows Stewart.
Though, in case you were wondering, while she has mostly left her former life behind, she does maintain contact with Martin, and sees him on her breaks, and seemingly has developed a crush on Simon. However, there is no mention if the crush goes beyond conversation as of now. She simply states how easy it is to talk to him and that she likes him.
Part 9: “And so I never really say goodbye.”
Not all stories can have happy endings. For while (which I notice I say a lot) Maddie has come into her own, and now gets asked out so often that she acts like she is waiting for someone to say she has been Punk’d, then there is Stewart. Someone who, she hasn’t spoken to, or about really, in a year, coming out of nowhere.
The situation: Maddie, as she usually is when she is back home, is hanging out with Simon, seeming like they are dating, but nothing made official, since the long distance between their colleges is a bit much, and then on their way out is Stewart. Those skater kids, who all praised him and idolized him, they have taken the lost prince and made him into a fallen knight. From what it seems, Stewart is back to drinking, is smoking up a storm, homeless, and whatever sweetness there was, it is locked away behind a hardened exterior. One that even his past love, Maddie, cannot reach.
Naturally leaving Maddie, someone who loves him, and has saved him before, trying her damndest to bring her first love back to at least where he was when she left. Alas, you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to put the effort into being saved. Stewart finds Maddie, and her savior complex, seemingly repulsive and makes himself scarce. Forcing Maddie to leave him behind and ultimately move on. She has too much to lose to give it all up for one boy. One who doesn’t even want to fight for himself and, though it is hard for her, it seems she has long built up the mental fortitude to even handle something as devastating as her lost prince becoming a fallen soldier. But, of course, while he maybe in the gutter, or still wandering the streets, she’ll remember him as he was and will remain in her memories and heart.
I have watched the first three episodes of the TV version based on this and now have finished the book. I find myself in that place where I’m slightly emotional, for likely Maddie’s official journey is over, yet there is the possible continuation with the show. However, with it seeming Blake Nelson seemingly just got a check and isn’t executive producing, or even maybe writing episodes, I do fear that all FreeForm/ ABC Family will do is use the names, and the gist of the story, and exploit more so than be faithful to the source material.
Which bothers me for while it has taken me way too long to finish this book, since I got it sometime in the spring, at the same time it really is frustrating to know that while the show has some pluses, by adding a reason why Maddie got addicted, why Stewart was distant, and etc, at the same time, there is this worry that, between budget issues, among other reasons, there will come to a point where they aren’t exploring things Nelson didn’t put in the book, but just making things up to extend how long they can try to make money off of this.
Perhaps presenting the best argument for why movies might just be better than TV series, depending on which channel the show will be on. For some books, like this, which honestly leaves a whole lot of room for interpretation, they can be made into series, and could very well thrive if allowed to. However, on the other end of the spectrum, being that there is such a lack of detail, it opens up books like these for someone to give their own take, a possibly bad fan-fic, and I do feel that is where the show may go. For while, as noted in the reviews, it starts off good, and peaks a bit in episode 2, with an original character mind you, with episode three the changes take a turn where you can see the ABC Family/ FreeForm effect, or influence, coming in and showing it may be too soon to say this is going to be something you can uncross your fingers and toes about.
Overall, though, I wouldn’t say this is necessarily the type of book I would recommend, if only because I don’t see myself reading this over again, or even looking at the handful of quotes I dug up. Mostly because, as noted, the diary format, which the show borrowed, I don’t feel works for me. I am the type of person who likes details and is inquisitive, and a lot of what I wanted to know about Maddie, from how she feels, or thinks, wasn’t presented for Nelson tried his best to make this a first person account. Then, in comparison to the would-be king of YA novels, John Green, I must admit the characters didn’t enchant and mesmerize me, and even with Maddie’s shifts from rehab to school, and then to college, there were times when I wasn’t necessarily excited for new locales or even Maddie’s next venture in life, but I was looking for something to invest in besides saying I finished the book. As compared to say, Fault in Our Stars, where I found the dialog to make me think a bit, the characters were all distinct, and when there was death (SPOILERS!) it felt like it mattered for you got to know the person which actually made their death tragic. As opposed to Trish and Ashley’s death which was presented, in my mind, as a “$h!t happens” type of scenario. But, even with more criticism than praise, I’m glad I finished the book. Now onto Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events which will be done chapter by chapter but, since the chapters aren’t as thin as this book, expect there to be maybe 3 chapters at a time than 5+.
You can change things. You can repair mistakes. You can restart your whole life if you have to. But some things you never get back. Certain people. Certain moments in time when you don’t know better than to shield your heart. You don’t see those moments coming, you don’t know it when they’re happening, but later, as the plainness of life begins to show itself, you realize how important they are. You understand who really changes you, who made you what you are.
— “Part 9/ Chapter 7.″ Recovery Road – Page 310