My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Plot: At 18, Zach finds himself in a therapeutic residential program as both an alcoholic and a post-traumatic-stress patient. In evocative and compelling language, Sáenz allows an at-first barely articulate, almost amnesiac Zach to show his progress toward remembering and integrating his past into a present with which he can cope. He is guided along the way by a sympathetic and wise therapist, a middle-aged roommate whose own recovery is on an arc ahead of the youth’s, and several credible and interesting minor characters. The techniques and realities of such a facility are realistic and fully drawn: addicts who gather for cigarettes, nightmares, group sessions, breathing therapy. Sáenz weaves together Zach’s past, present, and changing disposition toward his future with stylistic grace and emotional insight. This is a powerful and edifying look into both a tortured psyche and the methods by which it can be healed.—Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia END –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

My Review: Wow, this book punched me in the gut and stole my breath away. When I started this book at first I was really annoyed and even thought about not finishing it. But since I rarely abandon a book, I pushed on, and am I glad I did.

So what threw me off in the beginning? At first the writer uses terms like “Tears me up” and “Wigs me out” so often it just annoyed the crap out of me. It felt like he was trying too hard to sound youthful and young but he didn’t know any other terms to do that with. But as I read on I began to realize something. Everyone has their favorite sayings they use repeatedly  everyday. I know I do. I say things like “You’re such a dork” or “Get real” every single day, even multiple times a day. So I realized this is actually very real. This was Zach’s world and his favorite phrases that helped him express himself. Because of this I began to accept these terms and understand why he used them so often. It made me see Zach as a real person. It made me connect to him.

Zach is a kid with so many skeletons in the closet he has blocked them out and refuses to remember. He drowns them with alcohol. This book is about his journey to remembering and finding family. It’s filled with poetic wording that ripped at my heart strings. There are very few books that can bring tears to my eyes, and when I say few I mean one, this one. I have never read a book that brought literal tears. Sure tons of books tug on my heart and make me feel like if I wanted to let the tears go I could, but none have ever robbed me of the choice to not give in to tears. Needless to say I felt rather shocked when that stray tear escaped.

This is a gut wrenching and down right heart breaking book that definitely left me with the book blues. I adored the ending. It was not unpredictable, in fact it ended almost exactly as I predicted it would. But it was still perfect and I loved it for that.

Also the relationship that evolves between Zach and his 50+ year old roommate, Rafael, is wonderful. It’s like a father/son type of relationship that develops and you can’t help but root for the both of them to make it on the outside of rehab. 

So why didn’t it make the five star rating?

The annoyance in the beginning was enough to knock it down half a star for me. I know I got over that but still it’s effects have lingered.

Also there is a TON of cussing and I’m not a fan of cussing. So that knocked it down another half a star for me. But all in all it was an emotional riveting book about addiction, abuse, and the long road to recovery.

This book contains sexual and physical abuse, so if those are triggers you might want to pass on this one. 

This book is on Audible as well and I listened to it on Audible. It is narrated by MacLeod Andrews and he did an incredible job. It may be his amazing performance that drew on my emotions so strongly.