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Twelve Steps to Normal

Review

Twelve Steps to Normal

Written by Farrah Penn with Forward by James Patterson

Farah Penn's TWELVE STEPS TO NORMAL is equal parts heart-warming and heart-wrenching. The story follows Kira, who has been sent off to live with her aunt in Portland while her single, alcoholic father is put in rehab after a few dangerous, crazy stunts.

The book begins when Kira's father is finally sober and she finds herself coming home --- but what she's met with when she gets there isn't what she expected. Not only are her friends acting weird and distant (and one even stole her boyfriend!), but her father has invited several other members of the rehab facility to live in their home as everyone gets back on their feet. If that wasn't reason enough for Kira to be unhappy, she also has to keep her social worker from finding out, or she'll be sent back to Portland all over again. So Kira creates twelve rehabilitation steps of her own, but rather than being about overcoming alcoholism, these steps are about getting her old life back on track. The only question is, will she succeed? And once she starts the process, Kira will battle an even more important question --- is her old life something she even wants back in the first place?

"Farah Penn wrote an incredibly raw, emotional story....If you're looking for a read that will draw you in quickly, keep you hooked and is packed with plenty of emotion, this is definitely the book for you!"

I really enjoyed reading this book! It was interesting to see Kira navigate the tricky relationships both with her old friends, her new guests and even her father. While I certainly didn't blame her for being incredibly frustrated, my heart also went out to the guests (Peach, Nonnie and Saylor), because they were just trying to get their lives on track and they were nothing but nice to Kira throughout everything. They were certainly a unique bunch that I enjoyed watching interact together --- they definitely formed their own little family dynamic. So watching her relationship struggle but then eventually develop with them made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I was also hooked onto all of Kira's high school drama and seeing how her old life wasn't as easy to get back as she hoped. She had to navigate lots of twists and turns and awkwardness that she hadn't been expecting, and each of those challenges led to some new things --- such as new friendships, new potential relationships and even discovering some new things about her own self.

My favorite character in this book was definitely Alex. He was the perfect boy-next-door kind of crush --- sweet, gentle, talented, kind, funny and always there for Kira, even when she wasn't noticing it. Every time he appeared throughout the book, my heart warmed up and I felt all warm and fuzzy. (I've noticed that this book gave me that feeling lots of times!) He was always just so willing to be there for Kira, no matter how awful she may have treated him in the past and yes, sometimes even in the present. He definitely seemed like the kind of person that I would be interested in being friends with --- loyal and creative no matter what. Seeing Kira slowly start to appreciate that was really rewarding for me as a reader.

Also, I won't spoil anything for you, but the way the book ends --- it certainly wasn't the exact way I was expecting it to leave off, and I wound up being a lot more emotional than I had originally anticipated. So make sure to be prepared for that and have the tissues ready!

Overall, I really enjoyed TWELVE STEPS TO NORMAL. Farah Penn wrote an incredibly raw, emotional story about piecing together a broken past while also trying to mold a better future, and navigating all of those rocky moments in between. If you're looking for a read that will draw you in quickly, keep you hooked and is packed with plenty of emotion, this is definitely the book for you!

Reviewed by Jessica Cozzi on March 15, 2018

Twelve Steps to Normal
Written by Farrah Penn with Forward by James Patterson