addiction · book review · dedication · Family

Off the Rails: One Family’s Journey Through Teen Addiction by Susan Burrowes {Review}

Goodreads Blurb:

Fifteen-year-old Hannah was a privileged young girl with a promising future, but that didn’t stop her from sliding into an abyss of sex, drugs, alcohol, and other high-risk behaviors. Off the Rails narrates Hannah’s sudden decline and subsequent treatment through the raw, honest, compelling voices of Hannah and her shocked and desperate mother—each one telling her side of the story.

Fearing that they couldn’t keep their teen safe, Hannah’s parents made the agonizing decision to send her to a wilderness program, and then to residential treatment. Off the Rails tells the story of the two tough years Hannah spent in three separate programs—and ponders the factors that contributed to her ultimate recovery.

Written for parents of teens experimenting with high-risk behaviors, as well as those trying to navigate the controversial world of teen treatment programs, Off the Rails is an inspiring story of family love, determination, and the last-resort intervention that helped one troubled young woman find sobriety after a terrifying and harrowing journey.

My Review:

As a parent of a pre-teen, this was a much needed but intense and frightening read. I never think about the possibility of something like addiction happening to one of my children but reading this story made me realize that the possibility is there. I didn’t know if I would like the format in which the story was written but I gave more validation to how Hannah and her mom were feeling and what they were going thru. You see how fast Hannah’s addiction and behavior begin to affect their family. This story shows how difficult it is to make decisions for your child and family that may not be necessarily ideal but are needed. I don’t imagine that Susan ever thought she would have to send Hannah away for the length of time that she did. Having the story told from Hannah’s point of view allowed a look into how addiction affects the mind and feelings of the person addicted. Not only did Hannah have to go thru a healing process to get better, her family had to go thru one of their own in order to understand what they were going thru and why. For parents, I can say that would not be an easy task. To have to see where your faults are in possibly helping your child turn to a life of addiction. But at the same time, the addicted teen also has to take responsibility for their actions.  I highly recommend this story if someone has any questions of concerns about teen addiction and the affects that it has on a family. Although this story is heart wrenching it can provide hope that a change can be made for the better, but you have to be willing to set aside your personal feelings for it to happen.

I received this book from Booksparks in exchange for my honest review.


4.5 Stars


Available now in paperback and ebook

books · dedication · Family · reading

Birthday Dedication to My Mom

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday and she would have been 69 years old. I lost my mom in September 2011. I have my good days and I have my not so good days when I miss her terribly. I just wanted to take time out to say thank you to her.

We didn’t always have the best relationship, but we had a common love for reading and books and that kept us going and made things easier for us.

My mother gave me the greatest gift when she taught me how to read and introduced me to the world of books and reading at the age of 3. I have so many memories of my mom just sitting and reading when she wasn’t busy handling wife and mother duties. The first books that I can remember seeing her read are the books by Donald Goines and I have her copies from her bookshelves even though I have yet to read them myself. My mom read those books and she read Terry McMillan, Bebe Moore Campbell, and other authors. Horror was also another of her favorite genres.

The first books I can remember picking out myself once I started reading were the Berenstein Bear books. I remember reading them from the picture books up to the  chapter books.

One thing my mom always told me was that I would never increase my reading level if I didn’t read things that challenge me from time to time and that I should never just stay in my comfort zone with what I read. I try to read a little of everything.

I have two books on my shelf that mean so much to me and they are books that I have read over and over and plan to read them again sometime soon. Those books are The Color Purple by Alice Walker and I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Conde. I can still remember the day I saw my mom purchase I, Tituba in the bookstore. I told her at that time that I was going to be able to read that book one day. I didn’t know that it would become one of my favorite books and that it would be a book that my mom and I would be able to discuss for years to come. The Color Purple is another book that we were able to discuss. I first read it in sixth grade and as I read it again and again over the years, our discussions of the book became more in depth.

I really wish my mom was here to see that I have started my own blog about books and have taken the time to dedicate my social media and time to books. This hobby that she blessed me with has taken on a mind of it’s own and has also brought some very interesting people in my life.

I participate in a local bookclub (Page Turners), I am slowly building my own personal library, and I have even been a guest on a podcast (3 Book Girls).

Reading and books are my absolute favorite things I got from her . I miss her dearly but I know that she is happy about where I am and is very happy to see what my love of reading and books has brought me.

I have also passed this love down to my own children and that makes me very happy as well.