Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn (ARC): Alcoholism that’s NOT a Sob Story *gasp*

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4 stars

Kira’s coming back to her town and her father after living with her aunt in Seattle while her father was in rehab. She was forced to leave behind everything she loves, and all she’s looking for now is a Normal Life. But when your parent’s an alcoholic, there’s no such thing as normal (alcoholic parent or not). And is it really what Kira wants?

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I know I can always count on the Jimmy Patterson imprint for a new and innovative read–and this was no exception.

The premise is wonderful–it’s everything I want in a contemporary. Lots of character growth, an interesting (but not ridiculous) plot to balance it out, and just a twinge of romance–for a different guy. I really enjoyed seeing how her father’s alcoholism impacted her life, but not in the “I have a sob story” sort of way.

This was definitely such a huge plus for this book–I loved how Penn talked about alcoholism and it wasn’t just a sob story plot device, but something real and happening in her life. Not all alcoholism leads to violent drunks, and I think this was a very nice portrayal of fixing things with the help of rehab.

I also really enjoyed Kira’s story line (plus points because I actually remembered her name?) and how much growth happened with her character. I found her to not be annoying (bonus points for that!) even though I could recognize the flaws in her ideas about herself, her friends, her family, etc.

I do think that at times her flaws in logic were a little too obvious and that took away from the natural quality of the story, but most of the time this was okay.

There are a lot of great themes here, and although I would have liked more diversity (love interest Alex is Hispanic, but besides that, I don’t recall any other POC) in ethnicity/race, disability, LGBTQ+, or something else. But I did really like the alcoholism aspect and how it did play an important part in the novel.

I mostly took off a star because of how I thought that there was more potential left in the story–I wanted some of the scenes, like what happened at the end, to be more intense. I wanted to rage, cry, scream, and love with Kira, and that didn’t really happen for me.

This was something that was very easy to digest and I liked how it was paced & how the plot and character development balanced so nothing was too slow or dragging. I read this in a couple quick hours and didn’t stress about the writing style, so I could really immerse myself in the story and enjoy what’s happening.

The romance was also really cute and I liked how Penn portrayed falling out of love & other romantic aspects in the novel. I think Kira’s jealousy at her best friend dating her ex-boyfriend was handled well and she didn’t end up in raging-bitch-mode and start some stupid girl on girl hate.

This is definitely a good book, and one of my first of what is hopefully to be many Jimmy Patterson contemporaries, and I do think that it’s worth the read! Overall, I did enjoy reading it and it was an easy yet meaningful read in how Kira grew as a character.

Thank you to my local library and Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown & Co for providing me with an (uncatalogued) advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review!

much love, vicky

Have you ever read a book on alcoholism & how it affects lives? What did you think?

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3 thoughts on “Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn (ARC): Alcoholism that’s NOT a Sob Story *gasp*

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