I think I have mentioned it before, but Mom (CBS) is one of my favorite shows (and one of the few shows I watch that survived the Great Television Slaughter of 2016. But I digress). Since it comes back tonight (9 p.m. Eastern time!), I figured I’d post some books that people who like the series might enjoy.
Before I begin, here’s a brief synopsis of the show: Christy is a single mom who has just entered Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) when her mom, Bonnie, (who is also a recovering alcoholic) re-enters her life. The two women try to navigate a relationship while they’re actually sober and, on top of that, Christy is trying to repair her relationships with her two children (esp. her daughter Violet) who she has neglected and mistreated through her years of alcohol and drug abuse.
When the last season ended, Christy’s son Roscoe was living with his dad and his fiancée, and Christy’s daughter Violet had run off to Lake Tahoe to be a blackjack dealer. Christy is terrified that Violet is following in her and her Bonnie’s footsteps (“Oh God, she’ll be stripping in a year,” Christy says after Violet reveals her plans). Bonnie had fallen for this guy, Adam, who had moved away so she was heartbroken but committed to her sobriety, which was a huge change from the previous season when Bonnie had a major relapse. Bonnie is also (still) trying desperately to repair her relationship with Christy.
Also, please note that Bonnie is played by national treasure Allison Janney who is AMAZING. Also, her styling is A+++, and she always looks fantastic.
Okay, then. Let’s get to the books.
Some Nonfiction to Lay the Groundwork
First of all, to understand the pathology of both the alcoholics in recovery themselves and those who live with the effects of someone else’s alcoholism (specifically, the children since that’s the focus of the show), I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you to these two non-fiction titles before getting into the fiction.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous* — This outlines the AA program that Christy and Bonnie are both a part of and also the struggles alcoholics encounter before, during, and after they enter recovery.
Adult Children of Alcoholics* by Janet G Woititz — This book shows how living with an alcoholic family member affects the children of alcoholics. Christy and Violet both exhibit these behaviors since they were both raised by alcoholic parents. (Roscoe will, too, but the show hasn’t really gotten into that yet–probably because he’s so young. And currently lives with his dad who is a stoner, so yeah. It’s going to come up.) I honestly cannot recommend this book highly enough for someone who grew up with a drinker whether you (or they!) consider them an alcoholic or not. I posted a longer review here on the blog.
Now, for the fiction. And because I’m me, I’m going to copy/paste my Goodreads reviews (some slightly edited for this post) because that’s how I roll.
Books about Alcoholics in Recovery or Relapse
This is a sad and beautiful book about a sad and beautiful boy, and it just wormed its way right into my heart. Also, it almost made me cry! Twice! But in the best possible way.
Anyway, even though it is sad, it’s still full of hope and love, and I am just really happy this book exists.
4.5 stars–mostly for the ending.
This is legit. It’s also raw and honest. I picked this up on a whim at the library, and I’m glad I did.
This isn’t the type of book I typically read, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This is a fascinating character study, to be sure.
I think this is one of the few books I’ve read where the drinking/alcoholism isn’t linked to trauma. Madeline starts drinking at parties and is from a very comfortably middle class (if not upper class) family who all seem to get along rather well. Most books about alcoholism seem to be marked by class in very specific ways, which is why I think it’s important to point out. I posted about the lack of diversity in stories about alcoholism here.
I wound up liking this book a lot more than I thought I would when I first started it. Believable main character and not preachy or didactic at all. I would totally recommend it to a teen who had friends or family members in AA or, of course, to a teen considering entering the program him- or herself. I posted a full review of this book on the blog.
Books about Living with the Effects of a Parent’s Drinking
Friendship novel, yay. The boy thing didn’t even bother me. High praise, that.
Nice characters, outrageous but believable premise. I mean, I bought it. Except for the casino stuff. Other than that, though.
2.5 stars, rounding up
I liked the way this book dealt with grief, and I loved the idea of Matt attending funerals to find other people going through what he’s going through as well as his relationship with Mr. Ray. The love interest is also handled well. A solid read, though I wish even more had been done with the funerals and with Matt’s relationships with his dad and Chris.
2.5 stars, rounding up
This book does a lot of things I like, but I had a really hard time connecting with the characters and it seemed like I was reading it FOREVER, so that’s never a good thing. But I finished. And the ending didn’t annoy me, so that’s a plus.
2.5 stars, rounding up because it deals pretty well/honestly with addiction and recovery
This would have been a three-star book, but the boy thing annoyed me so much. I thought he was unnecessary and pulled focus from the most interesting relationship/heart of the book: Annabelle’s relationship with her mother.
I also disliked how Palmer did a lot of telling instead of showing of Annabelle’s involvement in her own recovery. I really would have liked to see her interacting with the kids from her meetings (esp. the one in the new town!) instead of everything being presented as a parenthetical aside.
Solid characters, great look at the effects of PTSD and alcoholism/addiction on teens, but I found the ending unsatisfying.
This was, honest to God, like reading a story about my own life. I posted a full review of this book here on the blog.
Great characters and plot. Wonderfully woven together. Just a little bit more melancholy than I was banking on and a little shorter than I would’ve liked. I posted a full review of this book on the blog.
I am always looking for books that deal explicitly with issues of alcoholism and addiction, so I welcome any additional recommendations. Although this post is heavy on YA fiction, I read across age groups, so go ahead and bless the comments with some recs.
ALSO. Please let me know if you’re watching Mom because sometimes I swear my daughter and I are the only two who do.
Okay. That is all.
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