Friday, September 7, 2018

Book Review - Off The Rails


Fifteen-year-old Hannah was a young girl with a promising future, but that didn’t stop her from sliding into an abyss of sex, drugs, alcohol and other high-risk behaviors. Off the Rails tells of Hannah’s sudden decline and subsequent treatment through the raw, honest, compelling voices of Hannah and her shocked and desperate mother—each one telling her side of the story.

Fearing that they couldn’t keep their teen safe, Hannah’s parents made the agonizing decision to send her to a wilderness program, then to residential treatment. Off the Rails tells the story of the two tough years Hannah spent in three separate programs--and ponders the factors that contributed to her recovery.

If you are the parent of a teen experimenting with high risk behaviors or if you’re trying to navigate the controversial world of teen treatment programs, this book is for you. Off the Rails draws aside the curtain of shame to reveal the workings of therapy, a wilderness program, a locked-down residential treatment center, and a group home. Susan Burrowes has written an inspiring story of family love, determination and the last resort intervention that helped her troubled daughter find sobriety after a terrifying and harrowing journey.


Susan Burrowes is a presenter, teacher, trainer and project manager who holds a Master’s Degree in Communication, but took enough time out of her studies to produce the two extraordinary, challenging, terrible, wonderful children who continue to define her life.

Her career spans fifteen years in advertising, eight years teaching in the college classroom and another ten years training professionals in organizations how to communicate with each other, an irony that was not lost on her as she struggled to reach her addicted daughter.

Susan currently works with a team of high achieving young adults in Admissions at the University of California Santa Cruz, where she ponders the question of teen success on a daily basis. She writes about the strength and determination of troubled teens and special needs children


This is a really heart-wrenching story about a family whose lives are turned upside down when their teenage daughter, Hannah, becomes addicted to drugs.

Like a lot of families, they thought they were leading a fairly normal life and were happy for the most part. When their daughter started acted moody and withdrawn, they weren't sure how to handle it and they didn't realize what was going on for a time. This story is told from the viewpoint of both Susan (the mother) and Hannah (the daughter).  It's interesting to see how they were both feeling about things as they were going through this.

There isn't an over night solution to a drug problem, especially when ecstasy and psychedelics are involved. It's a process and I realized that it's not just the addict who has to heal - it's the family. This is something that affects everyone in the family in very profound ways.

This is a raw memoir that isn't easy to read but it's definitely eye-opening. This book does use some foul language, so be aware of that. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me by BookSparks. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.

Blessings - Julie

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