How Does 'Recovery Road' Stack Up To The Book?

by Kaitlin Reilly

If there's one new teen show that you should be watching, it's Freeform's drama Recovery Road. The series, which will broadcast on television on Jan. 25, has already released three episodes online, and if you haven't watched them yet, do yourself a favor and log into the Freeform app to do so. While the problems associated with addiction are widely documented on television (hey, Breaking Bad) rarely do TV shows depict characters who are fighting for healthier, happier lives against the disease. That's where Recovery Road comes in: the series tells the story of Maddie, a teenager who is forced into outpatient rehab to confront the addictions she didn't even believe she had. The show is based on Blake Nelson's YA novel on the same name, but how does the TV show Recovery Road compare to its novel source material? While the important message is the same, the stories diverge.

In the television series, Maddie is sent to outpatient rehab facility Springtime Meadows to deal with her demons. She is surrounded by other addicts, including her kleptomaniac roommate, Trish, her former best friend Rebecca, and Wes, a boy she becomes immediately smitten with. In the show, Maddie hides the fact that she is in rehab from her friends at school, whom she is only allowed to see during classes. One day after school Maddie sneaks away to the movies in order to hang out with her friends, and is offered a flask of alcohol. Though Maddie doesn't accept the drink, the moment helps her realize the importance of sticking with the program at Springtime Meadows.

The book diverges slightly from this plot. The book takes place over the course of three years, and only the first is spent at Springtime Meadows. Though Maddie does recover, she doesn't always follow the program. She sneaks out with Trish, whom she is closer to in the books, and goes to the movies every Tuesday. There, she meets Stewart, another addict whom she falls in love with. Though they love each other, Maddie and Stewart can't make their relationship work after rehab. Stewart falls deeper into addiction, while Maddie goes off to college.

Road Recovery by Blake Nelson

Perhaps the biggest difference from the book to the TV show is this relationship with Stewart. In the television series, "Stewart" is replaced with "Wes Stewart," a man in Springtime Meadows whom Maddie develops feelings for. However, unlike in the novel, this version of Stewart is far more committed to sobriety. Wes has seen an ex-girlfriend fall into an addiction spiral, and knows that he no longer wants to go down that path. It's Wes who helps Maddie stay on the straight path, rather than the other way around.

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Though only time will tell with how closely the show will follow the novel, the ultimate message is the same. Recovery from addiction is possible, despite the many obstacles on the road ahead. It's an important, hopeful topic for a television show geared towards a teen audience, and one we don't see nearly enough.

Images: Bob D’Amico/Freeform; Amazon