Summary: Life in the Balance
Life in the Balance was my introduction to Jen Petro Roy’s writing and I really enjoyed it. I love getting introduced to a new author, it’s such a fresh experience to experience someone’s writing for the first time.
Veronica’s life seemed like it was on track until her parents announced that her mom is going to rehab for alcoholism. Her mom who was a softball player when she was younger, her mom the lawyer, her mom who was supposed to help her and her friends practice for softball tryouts.
Veronica is frustrated, sad, worried, and even angry at her mom for being unable to stop drinking. She also worries that things will never be the same again. So she throws herself into softball — their family sport — even though she isn’t sure she’s all that into it anymore. At the same time, she’s afraid to share her family’s secret with her best friend (whose parents are getting divorced). Will Veronica ever find a balance?
This story is very realistic. Veronica has A LOT of emotions (as she should) about her mom’s alcoholism. And her mom’s alcoholism is sensitively, but honestly depicted. We also see her father struggle to pick up another job as he is dealing with the impact of his wife’s alcoholism. Yet, it’s not too much — this is a perfectly appropriate middle-grade book (not even upper middle grade).
I loved seeing Veronica’s challenges with her friends. Although she wants to confide in her best friend, Claudia, Claudia has her own issues: her parents are getting divorced. So Veronica feels alone, until she meets someone she can share the weight of her mother’s addiction with. Veronica also likes singing and decides to enter the town’s talent show when her dad says they may not be able to afford her playing on the All-Star softball team.
There are useful details on her mom’s therapy as Veronica educates herself and also writes to her mom — and visits her. From this book and Bishop’s Where We Used to Roam, I realized how expensive rehab facilities can be, and how much of an extra strain it can be for families. Finally, this book is also therapy-positive as Veronica is encouraged to join a group and sits in on a session with her mom and dad.
Overall: Life in the Balance
Life in the Balance is a rare portrayal of alcoholism, addiction and rehabilitation in the family — especially in a parent. Sadly, more and more people are misusing drugs and alcohol to cope with life’s challenges, so more kids need books like this.
I loved how realistic Roy’s writing is and loved how Life in the Balance emphasizes the need for community and shows that kids can have more than one close friend. Softball fans and kids considering changing paths or dropping a cherished sport for something else will identify with Veronica’s struggles. I would highly recommend this one to all interested parties, ages 10 and up!
Buy This Book
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
More Book Reviews
- Brave Like That by Lindsey Stoddard
- One Last Shot by John David Anderson
- The Distance to Home by Jenn Bishop
Have you read this book or any by Jen Petro Roy? Which one should I read next? What are your favorite books about addiction in the family?