The Secret of Willow Ridge: Gabe’s Dad Finds Recovery

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Helen H. Moore, illustrated by John C. Blackford

Central Recovery Press

121 pages. $12.95 paperback.

One Saturday morning, 10-year-old Gabe’s shaky, red-eyed dad confesses that he has a problem: “a disease called addiction.”

Gabe knows his dad’s problems. He drinks too much and takes pills, yells and threatens to hit Gabe. He wrecks the car, messes up the house, loses jobs, and makes Gabe’s mother cry. Gabe can’t bring his friends home – his father isn’t like other fathers.

Now his parents explain to Gabe and his 7-year-old sister Izzy that the problems were caused by “a big secret everyone tried to keep hidden.” Today Dad is going to a treatment center to get help.

When Uncle Jimmy brings the family home from the center that evening to a clean house, a big dinner cooked by Aunt Stacey and laughter shared by everyone, Gabe guiltily realizes how relieved he feels that Dad is gone.

Now there’s a new “normal”: a peaceful home with a happy mother who welcomes their friends. As the day of Dad’s return approaches, Gabe grows anxious. How will he stand the embarrassment if the secret is out in the open? How will Dad act without alcohol and drugs? Will Gabe even know him?

This realistic story for readers ages 8 to 12 delivers valuable information for children affected by addiction. Gabe’s viewpoint feels genuine; words and illustrations capture his moody uncertainty as he longs to be normal. Surrounded by caring adults – his mother, his aunt and uncle, his teacher and his best friend’s parents – he gives his dad another chance.

The story ends just one day after Gabe’s father returns from treatment. Might a sequel be planned? Helen H. Moore, an author of many children’s books who is herself in “long-term recovery,” plants seeds to show that successful treatment is not the end of the story. A counselor at the treatment center tells Gabe, “Recovery is a way of life for people who are addicts.” And there are “meetings for kids whose parents have addictions.”

A foreword by Claudia Black reassures families that “you too can ask for help.” (702) 515-1374, http://www.centralrecoverypress.com.