17-year-old Charlie wakes up in a treatment facility wrapped in bandages - so traumatized, she can’t speak to anyone. Readers soon find out that when she was young, Charlie’s father experienced depression and drowned himself; her mother beats her; her best friend overdosed and was moved to a recovery facility across the country; and she’s been living on the streets of Minneapolis with addicts and criminals. Unable to cope with emotions she doesn’t know how to express, Charlie cuts her arms, legs, and stomach. After a rocky start, Charlie follows a friend to Arizona, finds work at a café, and returns to drawing portraits of people as she observes them. Just when her life is becoming stable, she falls in love with a junkie musician who inevitably drags her back down into emotional chaos. Charlie finally gets assistance from a co-worker recovering from drug addiction and from an artist who recognizes her talent. This story has several recovery stories going at the same time – drugs, alcohol, self-harm – whose victims take each day as it comes and count each one a victory.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI