Read this if you’re in the mood for: realistic contemporary YA, issues, character-driven, supporting characters, stand-alone

Summary:  Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated.

Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills.

Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome. 

Thicker than Water is an unforgettable dark, harrowing look into the disturbing truth of drug addiction and the desperate love of a sister watching her brother deteriorate before her eyes.

Read this if you like:
Both Vera and CeCe want more for themselves than the world seems to be offering them. Much like CeCe, Vera is dealing with grief, guilt, and some seriously imperfect parenting. The books show how complicated grieving can be when someone you love dies – the anger and resentment mixed with love and anguish. The books also show how a family member’s substance abuse affects your daily life.

THE GIRLS OF NO RETURN by Erin Saldin (links to my recommendation on previous blog)
With a group therapy environment, secrets, guilt, toxic relationships, and a need to address a past tragedy, TGoNR has many similarities to THICKER THAN WATER.

The Rec: CeCe's story unfolds in a past/present narration. In the past, her OxyContin-addicted brother is bankrupting their already in-debt family, and CeCe decides to steal some of his pills and start selling them so she can afford to go to college. In the present, CeCe's been put in an in-patient therapeutic rehab program as she awaits trial, and she's drowning in guilt over her role in her brother's death.

This book touches on a number of issues beyond prescription drug addiction: how debt affects a family, death of a parent, toxic relationships, abuse, poverty, and parental neglect, and it shows how good people can make bad decisions that snowball into something beyond their control. 

The other teens in the program serve as foils to CeCe; though their stories are equally harrowing (or more so), they are much more able to address their demons and thus can move forward and make progress in the program. Denial is a strong theme in this book, and it affects ever member of CeCe's family. Beyond the mystery of what happened to CeCe's brother and how CeCe was involved, this book is about forgiveness, facing your demons, and clawing your way back from a place you never thought you'd find yourself.

The Caveat: Trigger warnings.

You should read this because: THICKER THAN WATER is a compelling novel about how addiction transforms a family, and CeCe's story is one worth reading.

Read this book!
THICKER THAN WATER by Kelly Fiore (HarperTeen, January 5, 2016)

Recommendation by: Donna