Sarah posted last week about YALSA’s new award list, the Reader’s Choice Award. This list gives anyone the opportunity to nominate a title that they feel is one of the best books of the year, with the goal of having a resource of “the bests” for librarians and other readers, as selected by readers. You can submit a nomination by filling out this simple form here.
I’ve done a ton of reading so far this year, and though I’ve read a ton of excellent titles, my pick of choice is Blake Nelson’s Recovery Road (Scholastic, March 2011, 9780545107297). Nelson is one of my go-to authors for authentic voices and stories that appeal to a wide readership, and when I had the chance to read his latest, I knew it would easily jump to the top of my list for all-time favorite reads.
This book follows Maddie, a recovering party girl, in her final days in a residential treatment facility. While there, she develops a relationship with Stewart, one of the only people near her in age. But as Maddie’s time in the facility comes to an end, she and Stewart make a promise to one another to not only get better, but to also keep their relationship alive in the real world.
Of course, recovery being a hard and rocky road, things aren’t easy for Maddie nor Stewart. Both have their share of ups and downs, and Maddie finds herself challenged to fit in at school again and she finds herself losing everything that was once such a part of her. Though she’s stumbling, she continues to hang onto her promise to herself and to Stewart to get better, even though Stewart may not be able to hang on to his.
While reading this book, I was such a cheerleader for Maddie through and through. She had the tough skin that reminded me of so many teenagers I work with on a daily basis. Though they may not be in the same trouble she’s found herself in, each day, the teens I work with deal with things that challenge them to overcome their obstacles and to better themselves. They learn to become independent, which is the key in Maddie’s story. The book is pitch perfect in how it moves through the recovery process, and the relationship between Maddie and Stewart is authentic and engaging. It’s an edgy book, with great appeal to fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls or Speak, Ellen Hopkins, or Amy Reed.
This is another excellent book in Blake Nelson’s catalog, and I am excited that YALSA has opened the opportunity for anyone to nominate books like this that deserve just a little more attention.
— Kelly Jensen, who is currently reading Jennifer Castle’s The Beginning of After and Marcella Pixley’s Without Tess.