A teenage girl and her showbiz mom are forced to re-evaluate their relationship after rehab in this lightweight recovery story by the author of Geek Charming (2009).
After her washed-up actress mother, Janie Jackson, is arrested for drunk driving and enters rehab, 16-year-old photographer Annabelle has a hard time believing that Janie will be able to stay off the vodka. To learn how to cope, Annabelle joins Alateen. But when Janie scores a role in a new movie with hot young superstar Billy Barrett, Annabelle frets that if anything goes wrong, it could put her mom right back on the bottle. Fortunately she’s distracted by her own crush on small-town boy Matt and the lure of a college photography fellowship. Annabelle and Janie eventually learn that their roles have changed and that they each have some growing up to do. Though the page count is too long and the plot predictable, Annabelle’s neurotic, self-deprecating voice and hilarious habit of huffing Play-Doh when she’s anxious will keep readers rooting for her. Palmer’s television background is evident from the bouncy dialogue she creates among characters, which is the novel’s greatest strength. Despite the humorous tone, the serious subject of recovery is sensitively handled.
Anyone who’s ever struggled with a family member’s alcoholism will find a welcome and familiar friend in Annabelle. (Fiction. 12 & up)