Unraveling Hope in the Midst of Loss

A review of Kathleen Glasgow’s latest novel You’d Be Home Now

By: Sierra Trbovich

CW// Talk of substance abuse.

I haven’t written a book review in a very long time. I couldn’t tell you for what reason, but after I finished You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow, something compelled me to convince everyone to read it immediately. 

I first heard of Kathleen Glasgow’s work through the popularity of her debut book, Girl In Pieces. I was drawn in and infatuated with the writing and the hurt that Glasgow just seemed to understand. So I ordered her other two books. You’d be Home Now, being one of them. Though it took me a while to start, I couldn’t put it down the day I did. 

You’d Be Home Now is a heartbreaking and emotional journey through grief and the attempt to find a sense of belonging. The novel follows the story of 16-year-old Emory, who feels invisible within the spotlight of her “perfect” older sister Maddie and her “mess” of an older brother Joey. Joey’s own struggles, however, culminate after a party he and Emory attend, where Joey’s problem rears its head and ends up leaving one of Emory’s classmates dead. Both siblings, now dealing with the aftermath in their own way, become social pariahs in school as they find ways to recover. Despite their parents’ plans to maintain their social standings and find ways to “fix” their children, Emory has secrets of her own bubbling over, and apart from her part-time job as a babysitter to Joey, she teeters between wanting to be seen for once and fearing the repercussions. When Emory’s world collides, Emory must attempt to discover what’s next, all while keeping her and her brother’s heads above the rising water line. What happens when it becomes too much for one person to handle? 

This book tackles the heavy topic of addiction, more specifically the opioid epidemic, and its impact on not only the people who suffer but the communities, schools, and, more importantly, the people surrounded by the addict. More often than not, people forget that substance abuse affects not only adults, but children too. I found that Kathleen did an amazing job telling the sad, but common story of substance abuse from the perspective of teenagers. Emory’s perspective of her brother’s substance abuse was critical but needed in this trying time, and I think it really brought light to what so many people don’t see. With the exploration of mental health issues and the opioid epidemic and the loving characters leaving you with so many questions, Glasgow never failed to hold my attention. She’s deliberate with her words and her characters and is careful not to veer into the stereotypical territory, which I find is important when it comes to any YA book. You never know whether or not Emory or Joey will have a happy ending, pushing you to teeter on that finish line. I find in a lot of YA books teenagers today are dumbed down, and perhaps there’s some truth in that, but I felt Glasgow did an incredible job at staying true to what being a teenager really means and the decisions we as the younger generations often make or don’t make and the fear that creeps along behind that. 

There was clearly a tedious amount of research put into writing this book (which I found the same to be true in Glasgow’s past books as well), but more importantly, a lot of heart was put in too. I felt it not only did justice at the hands of those who have or who are suffering from addiction and all that surrounds it but as well as the parts we don’t always see, like those around us or the schools and communities that deal a great loss as well. Glasgow explores the broken system as a whole and writes about ways to mend it together again. You’re met with ways to continue to fix it and not look at it like it’s this foul thing, but rather something that just needs a touch of help before more lives are lost. 

Emmy’s character is one of the most relatable characters I’ve read about in a while. The struggle she finds within herself when it comes to saving Joey is something I myself have felt. You can’t save an addict who doesn’t want to be saved. But you can’t blame them either. I think this book executed that perfectly. I could probably write so much more about what this book meant, but to keep it short and sweet, read this. Read this even if you haven’t been through what Emory or her friends or family have been through. It deserves recognition. I truly loved this book way more than I thought I would. The writing was impeccable, and maybe it’s just because I myself am another Emory, but I truly loved and stuck with her to the end, and I think you should too.

Published 04/19/2023

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