Ever read a novel where you reach the end of the story, and you’re sad because even though you know the characters aren’t real people, you can’t help but care about them, and you desperately want to *know* what comes next?
Yeah. That was “Lifeline” for me.
Lifeline is a serious YA novel about Eli, a lacrosse player who lives with his step-father, Steven, his mother, and a little brother. Eli is haunted by the death of his father and, in order not to feel, sniffs heroin. After he overdoses at a party, he is sent to a rehab facility for 28-days where he meets Red, Will, Mo, and Libby, and Eli’s counselor, Richard Fisher. Each character is sharply drawn, from Will who can’t sit still, to the haunted Red, to Mo who has been through rehab multiple times & can only hope this time things stick. Libby, who becomes Eli’s love interest, is particularly well-drawn.
Most of the story takes place while Eli is in rehab. He works his way through denial to accepting he is, indeed, an addict. There are no real great twists in the plot of this story or big surprises, but the writing style and the realism made for a compelling, page-turning read. And, frankly, the lack of big plot twists made the novel seem much more real and not contrived.
In terms of things I liked most: The characters were well-drawn, complex, and seemed genuine to me. Red was an especial stand-out for me, as was Libby. Eli always remains likable as the main character, even when he’s acting out. The dialogue was strong, and the prose was excellent — this is an easy read. If I have any criticism, and it’s a minor one, it’s that I didn’t find the first chapter or two before Eli overdoses particularly compelling. Once he overdoses and enters rehab, however, I can’t find any issue with this book.
Five stars, a highly recommended read.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.