For all of Emory’s life she’s been told who she is. In town she’s the rich one–the great-great-granddaughter of the mill’s founder. At school she’s hot Maddie Ward’s younger sister. And at home, she’s the good one, her stoner older brother Joey’s babysitter. Everything was turned on its head, though, when she and Joey were in the car accident that killed Candy MontClair. The car accident that revealed just how bad Joey’s drug habit was.
Four months later, Emmy’s junior year is starting, Joey is home from rehab, and the entire town of Mill Haven is still reeling from the accident. Everyone’s telling Emmy who she is, but so much has changed, how can she be the same person? Or was she ever that person at all?
Mill Haven wants everyone to live one story, but Emmy’s beginning to see that people are more than they appear. Her brother, who might not be cured, the popular guy who lives next door, and most of all, many ghostie addicts who haunt the edges of the town. People spend so much time telling her who she is–it might be time to decide for herself.
This is one of those books that I can’t put into words how good it is. It’s such a powerful book and it’s very thought provoking. The fact that it deals with drug addiction might hit hard for some readers – just to put that in as a warning – but if you can handle it, then you should read this book.
The author tackles the mental health side of drug addiction – that it’s something people actually feel they need to survive, and that they’re not just doing this because they can. They really do have a problem, and many drug addicts want to break from their addiction, but they physically can’t do it… especially alone. It’s sad that so many people go through this, yet people who are not addicted aren’t willing to help, as we see with Emmy and Joey’s parents.
“Sometimes your life falls to ash and you sift through, waiting for the pain to pass, looking for the remnants in the debris, something to save, when really all you need is right there, inside you.”
When Joey comes home, the first thing their mother does is set strict rules for him, and if he can’t follow them, then he’s out. That’s pretty unsympathetic if you ask me, but it’s also true to how people try to “help” their loved ones who are addicts. Meanwhile, their father just works extra long hours to avoid that there even is a “problem” with his son. For most of the book, I couldn’t stand Emmy’s parents because of how they treated Joey and the entire situation, but they have their redeeming moments. Their father realizes that he’s not helping by staying away, and when he sees the community of homeless people (mainly due to addictions) he has compassion on them realizing that his son could end up like them if he doesn’t get the right help.
As far as their mother goes, I went from being completely annoyed by her to realizing that part of her issue was her upbringing. It’s revealed that she was raised to deal with situations like this a certain way because of her father, which is probably true for a lot of people. That doesn’t completely excuse them, but it helps us to understand where they’re coming from. However, with the rise in mental health and addiction awareness, the old way of dealing with those “problems” needs to go. They’re not problems, they’re illnesses and need to be treated as such.
“We could all probably be a little more benevolent in life. We all live here, after all. We all share the same mighty good company of the stars at night, and everyone deserves kindness, and survival. Everyone deserves to be seen.”
What I really admired was the lengths that Emmy went to – both in the past and during this story – in order to help her brother. She wanted the best for Joey and for him to beat his addiction, as well as make others understand that he was fighting an illness, and not just someone looking to get high all the time. She shows great development as a character in persevering through the adversity given to her and Joey because of the car accident, and learns to stand up for herself, even against her own parents.
You’d Be Home Now is an outstanding YA novel that deals with real, gritty issues that need to be given attention. Again, it might be hard for anyone who’s gone through addiction or is close to someone who is/was, but if you can handle it, I would definitely recommend reading this book. It’s truly an eye-opener.
Rating: 5/5 stars