- Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes
This book has the distinction of making me cry for the first time in ages. Rachel isn't my favorite Keyesian heroine, but she is certainly the most fascinating one so far - and not just because she's a crackhead. Truly. Rachel's titular holiday is only one in her drug-enfeebled mind. She's actually in a rehab center for any and all addictions, peopled with fellow drug addicts, overeaters, smokers, alcoholics, and gamblers. Her journey from the enabler that is NYC back to the land of quiet desperation (at least according to Rachel, whose word usually means the opposite of whatever she says) that is Ireland. It would all be pretty depressing, but Rachel's quirky point of view and her eccentric, sweet family create moments of lightness. The inhabitants of Cloisters, the treatment facility, are also an endearing motley crew. Keyes is always impressive in the characterization department, but what really makes this book a superior read is the portrayal of addiction. I wondered if the author had been an addict or worked with them, she wrote so minutely and scarily of the recovery process. While I didn't love Rachel uneqivocally, her struggles capture the bitterness (and necessity sometimes) of setbacks, but also the unparalleled achievement of making a comeback. It's a good thing to be able to root for a character.