I listened to this book on the Axis 360 app available through the NSHS Library. Solomon is agoraphobic and hasn’t been seen by his peers since middle school. Lisa, a high school junior, decides she is going to “fix” Solomon in order to use him as fodder for her college application essay. This idea may seem far-fetched in some places, but I’ve heard crazier “getting into college schemes” in our area. Somehow Lisa’s boyfriend Clark gets pulled into the scheme — I don’t quite remember how. The three become fast friends until they’re not… This a quick, funny read that also speaks to more serious issues such as mental health. It is a great pick for fans of realistic fiction by John Green and Robyn Schneider. ~ Ms. Steiger
Tag Archives: mental illness
This is a review of an ARC from NetGalley. Spoilers ahoy!
Amelia’s life could be a standard sit-com set-up: white, middle-class family in upstate New York, parents run a restaurant, two cute fighting twin younger brothers, and a handsome, popular, adored older brother. But when Amelia comes home form a summer baby-sitting gig, something is off. Her older brother Toby has changed dramatically, and spends all day locked in his room getting high, or scribbling furiously in a notebook.
It becomes clear fairly quickly that Toby’s problem is more than just drugs, and that there’s something seriously wrong. Amelia tries to cover for her brother – partially out of sibling loyalty, and partially because she is too wrapped up in her own life (new boyfriend, learning to drive) to worry about her brother. But after Toby has a psychotic break, no one can ignore it anymore. The book centers around how Amelia and her family cope with the situation. Amelia’s main response is to think about how all of this will affect her. Is that the perfect behavior? No. Is it normal for a 16-year-old (or really, for a human being)? yes.
I’ve seen some complaints that the book treats mental illness as a plot device, and that the characters don’t treat mental illness appropriately. But I think the main issue is that the blurb makes it seem like it’s going to be a fun light romance, and it’s definitely not. This is a serious book about a teenage girl coping with a sick brother. She doesn’t handle everything perfectly, or even particularly well. But to me that felt honest.
One issue I did have was the sex scenes. I have no problem with them being there, but the writing was – awkward, and felt a bit gratuitous. They could easily have been toned down or taken out and not hurt the plot or character development. – Ms Schoen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenger Deep is a perfect example of why reading fiction is so valuable. Studies show that reading fiction builds empathy, and in this case a reader’s empathy is developed by inhabiting the troubled mind of Caden, a promising teenaged boy who is descending into severe mental illness. No matter how much nonfiction I read about schizophrenia and related psychotic diseases, I would never grow to appreciate the terrorizing experience of losing touch with reality, increasing paranoia and compelling hallucinations the way that I did by reading this book. The author’s son helped to illustrate the book, and provided the insight necessary to bring it to life, based on his personal experience as a teen with mental illness. This was at times difficult to read, not only due to the nature of the topic, but also because of the way in which the narrative switched sporadically between Caden’s real life and his hallucinated one. The latter was disturbing and filled with symbolic connections to reality that kept me guessing and hoping for a pathway back to normalcy. This is an important book, and I’m grateful that the author and his son had the strength to write it. ~ Ms Dimmick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The novel “Brain on Fire; My Month of Madness” explains the tragic and true story of author Susannah Cahalan and her time of insanity. Susannah Cahalan a New York Post journalist tells her story on what it was like to go insane and how she and her family around her conquered her illness.
There were many things I liked in the book. To begin, I am not usually a huge fan of non-fiction books. I really enjoyed the fact that this book was not like most non-fiction books in the sense that it did not just state facts, it told a story. I also found this book to be very interesting because you were able to look into the life of a mentally insane person, something I have actually been curious about in the past. In addition, this book taught me a lot about the human brain. I have never been extremely interested in medical things, except for the occasional Grey’s Anatomy. But, this book actually made me more interested in learning about the human brain as well as just making me more knowledgeable on the topic.
Lastly, this book was a quick and easy read. Only containing 250 pages, it is a great read for when you don’t want to consume too much of your time. Though there were many things I enjoyed there were also some negatives to the book. First off, at times the book seemed to drag on. There was a lot of repetition in this book, so at times I was bored or needed to take a break. Also, even though I found it very interesting, the overall outcome of her disease (what you find out was the problem) was a bit of a let down. There was too much build up in my opinion.
Overall, the positives outweighed the negatives. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is in their teens and/or adult years. In the end, “Brain on Fire; My Month of Madness by Susannah Callahan” is a great read for any type of reader.~Student: Sara F.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This incredible memoir was an emotional roller coaster ride from start to finish. I found out about it when a student read an excerpt from it during a speech tournament. The relatively short piece sparked my interest and I borrowed it from the Newton Free Library. Madness: A Bipolar Life is a lively biographical story written by Marya Hornbacher, also author of the groundbreaking memoir Wasted where she recalls the tale of her struggle with eating disorders. In this brutally honest telling of what it is like to live with severe mental illnesses interfering with her everyday life, Hornbacher brings into focus what it is like to struggle with a severe sickness of the mind. Her vivid, in-the-moment writing style makes you feel like you’re right there with her through her bad episodes, bouts of self-harm, and heartbreaking hospital visits. Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood swings from elated highs to depressing lows. And in rapid cycling, what the author herself has, such mood swings occur more frequently than normal. A person with such an illness can end up leading a very challenging life as a direct result if they don’t find treatment that works for them. What I really loved about the book was Hornbacher’s writing style. It makes you feel like you’re right there with her and just like real life is messy and all over the place, so is this book. Hornbacher’s life makes an amazing read and this memoir is will most definitely not disappoint. The numerous setbacks she experiences make you as a reader appreciate every moment of happiness and peace she finds throughout the story. I highly recommend it. ~ Student: Teresa C.