Thursday, April 19, 2018

Saving Bobby by Renee Hodges - Book Review

Saving Bobby by Renee Hodges

The Basics

Publisher: She Writes Press
(May 1, 2018)
Paperback: 349 pages

Purchase Links

I'm a person in long-term recovery.  My sobriety is based on staying aware of my issues, following my steps, and trying to always be there for others.
Our stories are important, and I wholeheartedly cheer on those who are brave enough to tell them.

Summary from the Publisher
(I've highlighted in red the parts that yelled at me loud and clear that I must read this book!)

When Renee Hodges invited her nephew, Bobby, to come stay with her for a few weeks so he could visit a doctor about his back pain, she knew he was recovering from an addiction to prescription painkillers. She believed that if he could address his back problems, he would have a better chance of staying clean―but she had no idea what a roller coaster ride she was getting on.

Unlike other books about addictionSaving Bobby begins after rehab is over. Told in part through journal entries, e-mails, and personal recollections, this raw, honest, deeply moving memoir―begun to keep the family accountable―describes the sixteen months that Hodges, her husband, and their community struggled alongside Bobby as he attempted to successfully re-enter the day-to-day world. Using a holistic and open approach, the shame and stigma associated with addiction was lessened―and ultimately, Bobby learned he had to save himself.

A gripping and heartrending story of survival, Saving Bobby is an essential, timely read for those concerned about America’s most pressing epidemic.

First Impressions
(written after Chapter 1)

The first chapter of is an email from Renee to her own psychologist, asking for help for a friend of hers who own son has relapsed.  
The franticness is visible in her words.
Relapse is reality for many.
Far too many.
I've watched many an addict/alcoholic come and go from meetings, doing and re-doing Step 1.
Some disappear forever.
I bet this young man doesn't make it.

My Perspective

What/Who I Liked

There are some vitally important concepts within Renee's story:

Addiction is a disease, and it travels through family...through generations.  Some people are skipped.  We don't know why.
It is what it is...but that's hard for the alcoholic/addict as well as those the disease skips.  I'd honestly never thought before about how the person the disease skips must feel.
A survivor's guilt.

Transparency.  No hiding.  Break the stigma.  These tenets are key to ever being able to control the addiction epidemic.  Renee preaches them and practices them.

Exhaustion. Renee is Bobby's aunt.  I think a lot of people would question Bobby's parents decision to let go and let someone else.
I didn't.
You can't help an addict who won't help himself/herself...and sometimes I think that's harder for parents to accept than anyone.
I've watched parents fix every broken thing in their children's lives.  
Many of those children are dead.

The crossovers and connections between alcohol and opioid addiction.  Addiction is addiction.  A person in recovery must be vigilant...if he/she wants to stay sober.

The structure of Renee's story: Emails.  To herself, her own therapist, Bobby's parents, Bobby's drug counselor...I LOVED this format!

The list of recovery techniques I myself walked away with...Renee reminds the reader many times that she is not a licensed counselor, social worker, or physician.  I couldn't help but wonder if like Bobby, she should become one.

Renee's honesty - the 16 months Bobby lived with her and her husband weren't always great.  Bobby's recovery affected her life.  She doesn't try to pretend that it didn't.

I'll be buying my sporting goods from Dick's from now on ;) 

What/Who I Didn't Like (My issues)

Don't get me wrong here at all...I'm never sure what to call this section because it's not that I really didn't like these people, characters, or parts of the book...these are the parts that irked me a bit bc of my own peculiarities...which are many.  Especially surrounding this particular content area.

Full disclosure as I mentioned above: I'm a person in long time recovery myself.  Recovery is a day to day process...I don't care how long you've been sober.  The disease never goes away.  It's with you till you die.

Organization, making lists, coming up with solutions, always having a positive uplifting word for Bobby...these were the times that I rolled my eyes at Renee.  I bet Bobby did too sometimes.  I'm fifty, and I rolled my eyes at Renee.  Not sure what that says about me. 

Here's the thing.
As an addict, many times it's not that we don't know what we should do. 
It's the action part.
If recovery was as easy as writing out a list of things the addict needs to do to stay sober, no one would be addicted to anything.
It's just not that easy.

What Bobby had in Renee (I think) is someone who not only told him what he needed to do, but she also almost at times walked him through the things he needed to do...for over a year.  I do seriously wonder if this aspect is what's missing from rehab.  I've read a lot of research about behavior changes.  Sometimes if a person can just go through the motions for a certain amount of time, then it becomes habit.  I don't think it happens all at once and I don't think there is any magical timeframe.
In the educational world, we call this scaffolding...the highly effective teacher provides instruction and guidance through new concepts.  As the student picks up on those concepts, the teacher then slowly removes her support.
She sometimes has to step back in before she can fully let go...and sometimes multiple times over a period of time.
When this process ends, however, true learning has taken place.

On a lighter note, also as an addict, my response to Renee's organization is pretty typical of how many addicts would respond I think...hence the "respectful" eyeroll.
It's the same eyeroll I get when I ask my doctor why I've gained so much weight in the last year and he mentions the pop tarts I love so tenderly...

Even though Saving Bobby is Renee's story, her experiences, I would have LOVED to have Bobby's commentary more throughout Renee's timeline. 

Golden Lines

Looking back, I let my righteous feelings morph into defensive feelings, then morph again into judgmental feelings.  I was affected by John's addiction every bit as much as if it were my own and I were the one who must bring the bottle to my lips every day. (140)

Accidents are the primary cause of death for individuals aged 18-25 years.  Historically, car accidents have represented the bulk of these fatal accidents. However, in 2009, more young people between the ages of 18 and 25 died from drug overdoses than from car accidents. (340)

The United States represents 5 percent of the world's population yet consumes 75 percent of the world's prescription drugs. (In 2009 the United States consumed 99 percent of the world's hydrocodone, 60 percent of the world's hydromorphone, and 81 percent of the world's oxycodone. (340-341)

What Now?

I've got a couple of other recovery narratives on my TBR shelves that I really need to get around to.
I'm also really interested in the publisher of Renee's book, She Writes Press.  I'm all about empowering women...and telling our stories.  
Imagine what we could do in this world by standing up, telling our stories, and cheering each other on??

Full Disclosure Statement:  She Writes Press provided me with a complimentary copy of Saving Bobby in exchange for an honest review.  The comments above are my own and offered without bias.


  1. I think a huge part of recovery IS sharing your story. My husband has been working homeless outreach with me and there are many opportunities to tell his story and he does. It's the one thing he looks forward to each week. Sometimes I leave there with my heart so heavy but it's a good heavy. The kind that inspires you to keep doing good. You are doing well by sharing your story.

    1. Thanks, Tina. Your support means the world to me. It's hard to know how much to share and with whom. This year is my 50th birthday year, so I'm definitely feeling some freedom of expression that I've never felt before :)

  2. Thank you for your review of Saving Bobby. I laughed when you mentioned the eye rolling, but fear you have now given my (adult) children, including Bobby, a co-conspirator :) Telling our stories are very important if we are to take the shame and stigma out of the disease of addiction, much like what was done for breast cancer, domestic abuse, and workplace harassment. Community can help as was done for Bobby. Recovery is just beginning when someone is leaving rehab or a half-way house. Your review will help to open up a conversation about this vulnerable time in recovery. No one recovers in isolation. Best~

    1. Renee, I'm so glad you stopped by and commented :) I love it when authors dialogue with bloggers :):):) I will be two years sober in May after a 10 yr. relapse. A relapse that was caused by exactly what you described above: shame, stigma, not truly "recovering," after taking that last drink. When I quit drinking the first time, my overindulgence was considered a morality problem, not a disease. I never took the next steps, hence a relapse that truly almost killed me. I appreciate you, Bobby, and your story more than you know. <3

  3. Thank you Peppermint Ph.D for sharing about this book! It is so transparent that it truly takes away the underlying current of guilt that sucks us back in. I believe that this book could make such an impact and your Review will help with that. If we can re-program society maybe we can actually help people and save lives!
    God Bless,


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