On the Rocks

The Path You Choose #2

Young Adult - Coming of Age
140 Pages
Reviewed on 12/02/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anelynde Smit for Readers' Favorite

On the Rocks by Jill Vanderwood paints a vivid picture of choices and consequences. You choose the path and it leads you to very realistic situations. It is a look at two brothers left alone at home and there are rumors about a party going around. Here you are asked if you want to go to the party or if you would rather stay home instead. If you do go to the party there is even more to follow, such as a robbery and even an arrest. Both brothers are in deep trouble, and it is the reader who decides how deep they go. The choices made lead each brother down different paths and ultimately different conclusions. Very well written and researched, this book has a very different look at the peer pressure teenagers are going through. Young adults would find this book fascinating because they can put themselves in that position. There are also very detailed illustrations that paint the scene for you. You ask yourself, is this right for me? What would I do if asked that question? Only the reader can make the choice, and live with the choice.

I liked On the Rocks. Jill Vanderwood paints a very real picture of what it means to make the wrong choice. On the Rocks was fun to read for all the different endings. I found myself reliving each one, only to be led to a life-changing conclusion. Moments of shock, relief, and fear wash over you. It has a very real-life lesson behind it; choices have consequences. Books like this are perfect for young adults searching for answers to peer pressure. Simply as a guide, this is very well done. I would give this to young adults with confidence and let them see what their choices might lead to. Overall, I have to say I am impressed that this book still had an impact on adult me as it would have on a teenage me.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Alcoholism is a serious problem, not just with adults, but also with youths, even those underage. Life is full of temptations and alcohol is one of them. How you face this temptation (and others) will determine how you face your life as an adult. You have to remember that there are always consequences to the choices you make and each consequence depends on the paths you choose to follow. If a friend offers you a drink at school, do you take it? If a friend invites you to a party at their house when their parents are away, do you go? And, if you go, do you join the others as they drink themselves silly?

Jill Vanderwood’s middle-grade book, On the Rocks: The Path You Choose #2, is a great self-help guide to steering through the quagmires of alcohol temptation. The book is constructed with multiple story progressions following different ‘what if’ scenarios: what if you chose to accept the drink offered by your friend, or what if you chose to turn it down (and other possible scenarios). Each chapter is a partial story and what you choose at the end of each chapter will lead you to a different chapter, not necessarily the one that follows. The story's progressions are presented in second-person narrative, challenging ‘you’ the reader to face the temptations and make your choice of path to follow. The stories consider different aspects of trust, like the trust the parents have in leaving their young teens alone for a weekend versus the trust that your friend wouldn’t offer you something bad, would they? There’s also the trust issue of whether or not it’s safe to ride in a car driven by a drunk driver: can you trust the person just because he/she is related to you or is a friend?

There are also issues addressed like how you acquire the alcohol: do you steal it from a store? Or your parents’ liquor cabinet? With thirteen possible endings to the initial opening scenario, the reader is left with many possible paths to choose and where these paths might lead, all the while remembering that every choice you make has a consequence. At the end of the book, there are more valuable resources, a discussion on what’s legal and what’s not for young drinkers, what alcohol does to the body, and so much more. This is a valuable resource aimed at the Grade 5 – 8 readers to help them make wise choices regarding alcohol.