You'd be home now by Kathleen Glasgow

cover image

The sign on the highway leading out of Mill Haven says “Leaving so soon? If you lived here you’d be home now!” It is near an encampment of homeless people society seems to have abandoned. Mill Haven is home to 16 year old Emory who is injured in a car crash on her way home from a party. The driver Luther Leonard is also injured but in the back seat her brother, Joey passed out on heroin smothers Candy Montclair who is dead.  With his drug habit revealed, Joey is packed off to a rehabilitation centre by their efficient, lawyer mother and their father throws himself even more into his job as an ER doctor while beautiful, confident older sister Maddie, home from college, spends time with Emmy. Joey has never fitted in with the parents’ expectations and Emmy has taken emotionally exhausting responsibility for covering up for him while being ‘the good one’. She blames herself for keeping his drug habit secret, allowing it to become out of control. Joey’s drug dependence can be traced back to overuse of prescription painkillers so Emmy’s parents discourage her use of them to manage the pain in her knee. On top of this, when Joey comes back from rehab she is expected to supervise him. Worried and in pain her only comfort is her secret intimacy with popular Gage, from next door. “Standing so close to him feels electrical, bolts of heat and light that erase the pain in my knee, my thoughts of Joey” p. 64.

Author’s notes tell us the book is based on the American classic “Our Town” and a desire to write about the current opioid epidemic, this is a lot to ask from a first person narrative but Emmy’s protective love for her brother stands out as she navigates life and all its complications.  Fans of Glasgow’s Girl in Pieces will love this book. Sexual exploration, death and drug abuse make it suitable for upper middle to young adult readers.

Themes: Drug addiction, Family, Mental health.

Sue Speck