62 pages 2 hours read

Kathleen Glasgow

You'd Be Home Now

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2021

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Summary and Study Guide


You’d Be Home Now (2021), inspired by author Katherine Glasgow’s own experiences with addiction and recovery, tells the story of Emory Ward whose brother is addicted to opioids. After a tragic car accident that leaves one person dead and another in jail, Emory, healing from her wounds, must manage her brother’s recovery while treading the murky waters of high school life. New York Times bestselling author Kathleen Glasgow is known for her young adult fiction that addresses emotional subject matter. Her debut novel, Girl in Pieces (2016), which discusses self-harm, received the Amelia Bloomer Book List prize. Glasgow is also Glasgow of How to Make Friends with the Dark (2019) and the co-author of The Agathas series (2022-23).

The source material comes from the 2021 Delacorte Press eBook edition.

Content Warning: The source material contains discussion of substance abuse, overdose, self-harm, and suicide.

Plot Summary

Despite her family’s generational wealth from owning a textile mill, Emory Ward spends most of her sophomore year of high school covering up her brother Joey’s struggle with addiction. That summer, she attends a party and discovers that Joey overdosed on opioids. Candy Sinclair begs Emory for a ride home, but since Emory has been drinking, Joey's friend Luther drives them home. It is raining heavily, and the car skids off the road and flips. Candy doesn’t survive, and the accident leaves Emory with a shattered knee. Luther Leonard, who was carrying drugs to sell, loses an eye and is sent to juvenile detention. Emory awakens in the hospital and learns of Candy’s death and that their parents are sending Joey away to a rehabilitation center in Colorado.

Emory recovers at home but must hide her prescribed pain pills because her mother fears them. Emory also deals with post-traumatic stress from the accident as scenes from the terrible night replay in her mind constantly. Slowly, Emory detaches herself from life, refusing to leave the house. Emory learns that her school friends are distancing themselves because many people at school blame Joey and Emory for Candy’s death.

Emory’s older sister, Maddie, is home from college and cares for her, but once Maddie leaves, Emory feels utterly alone. Emory has been experimenting sexually with their neighbor and school “baseball god,” Gage Galt. Though Gage has made her promise to keep their arrangement secret, Emory loves the way that Gage makes her feel beautiful and sensual. Emory also keeps a velvet box in her closet full of stolen items. Both her time with Gage and shoplifting give Emory an addictive thrill. Emory’s mother, Abigail, is a lawyer, and her father, Neil, is an emergency room doctor. Both hide behind their careers and family money to avoid discussing Joey’s addiction and Emory’s trauma. Opioid addiction is on the rise in town, and a non-profit organization wants to transform the vacant Mill into a rehabilitation facility, but Abigail is considering selling it to build condominiums.

Joey returns from rehab confident and happy, but his parents force him to sign a contract binding him to a strict set of rules which includes getting a job. Soon, Joey’s happiness wanes, and he is back to feeling depressed and unable to measure up to his parents’ high expectations. When the siblings return to school, they face stares and angry words from their classmates. Joey can’t be with any of his old friends because they all use drugs, and Emory just wishes that she could disappear. She eats lunch with the other loner kids including Jeremy, Luther’s brother, and Liza, her former best friend. Eccentric Daniel, who had thyroid cancer, also joins them. Emory also joins the Drama Club and at first dislikes being on stage but soon finds it a place where she can healthily release her emotions. Emory and Gage resume meeting in secret in her pool house, and one night as they stare at each other through the window, Gage asks her to pull up her shirt, and he takes a photo. The two begin swapping nude photos, though Gage promises to keep them to himself.

Joey languishes at home under his parents’ strict rules. He works long hours at a sandwich shop and struggles with schoolwork, and Emory worries that he will relapse. The school Fall Festival approaches, and Emory longs to have a public relationship with Gage. She attends the dance with Daniel, Jeremy, and Liza but gathers her courage and asks Gage to dance in front of his friends. He turns her down, and she runs from the gymnasium humiliated. One of Candy’s friends yells at Joey in front of his crush, Amber, and calls him a “druggie” which sends him to find his friend Noah, who gives him Oxy. Joey overhears Emory telling Daniel what happened, and he attacks Gage, thinking that he harmed Emory. Gage’s arm snaps, and he is rushed to the hospital. Gage’s friend grabs his phone and circulates the nude photos of Emory and Gage around the school.

Emory hides Joey’s relapse from her parents. When she returns to school, she is shamed for the nude photos. Liza comes to Emory’s rescue, and the two repair their broken relationship. Liza uses her social media account, where she goes by the anonymous name “Mis_Educated,” to warn everyone in school to stop shaming Emory for consensual sexual behavior or she will expose their secrets, too. Joey cracks under the pressure of it all and runs away with Luther, who got out of juvenile detention. Devastated over her brother’s relapse and desertion, Emory takes to social media to beg for help in finding him. Knowing her relationship with Gage is over, Emory develops feelings for Daniel, and he helps her to search for Joey. Joey’s friend, Max, finds him at a drug house, and Emory races to rescue her brother. Joey agrees to get help and enter a treatment facility. Abigail petitions the city council to allow her to turn the Mill into a rehabilitation and recovery center for people struggling with addiction.

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