Paperback, 249 pages
Published May 26th 2016 by Faber and Faber (first published May 10th 2016)
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to go to a top tier psychiatry program. She'll do anything to get in.
When Lisa finds out about Solomon's solitary existence, she comes up with a plan sure to net her a scholarship: befriend Solomon. Treat his condition. And write a paper on her findings. To earn Solomon's trust, Lisa begins letting him into her life, introducing him to her boyfriend Clark, and telling him her secrets. Soon, Solomon begins to open up and expand his universe. But all three teens have grown uncomfortably close, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse as well.
I've never been a big one for contemporary YA, but this book has opened my mind a little to the genre (plus the fact it's LGBT+ lit might be a help - I love me some gays).
This story is freaking adorable. Solomon, Lisa and Clark are all funny, likeable, realistic characters, and their humour just bands together to make me want to squish all their cheeks. This is a short but gorgeous story about how having something worth getting better for makes all the difference to recovering from mental illnesses.
I have to say that I was skeptical about the idea of "friendship cures everything"; it's a tired off-shoot trope from "romance cures everything", and I think most of us in the mentally ill community know it's crap. However, this was done extremely well. Not only because friendship didn't cure everything, but the agoraphobia and anxiety was portrayed so well. It was realistic, raw, and while it was central to the main plot of the story, it wasn't the sole focus. People aren't just their illnesses, and that came across perfectly here.
One of my favourite things in this novel were actually the different family dynamics. There's a lot of "Where the hell are the parents?" problems in some YA stories, but none of it here. The parents were involved members of each character's life (although in different ways), and I appreciated the show of different dynamics in the families. Solomon's parents are friendly and loving, Lisa has a home that sees a lot of fighting and spurs her want to move away from her home town, and Clark has a loving relationship with his little sister.
The ending was something I felt wrapped up really well. The small letter at the end really made it for me. I was afraid of the way it was going to end, praying that there wouldn't be a "Hey I got friends and now I'm cured!" situation, and there wasn't, which made me very relieved. I think as far as Solomon's mental health goes, it was handled really well.
Right after I'd read it, I gave the book 5 stars, but now that I've had a little time to think on it, I've decided it's more of a 4.5, rounded down to a 4 on Goodreads. I'll put the reason for this in the "things to look out for" section under a spoiler tag, so you can choose to read it. I won't have anybody saying I spoil things!
Overall, this book is a real and honest look into the life of someone with severe anxiety and how that impacts relationships with those around them. Plus everyone's cute as hell.
Things to look out for:
- An accurate representation of agoraphobia and anxiety
- A gay MC
- Gorgeous friendships and family relationships
- A Grandmother that's sassy as hell
- A "gay character falls for straight character" situation (I only count this as a negative because I believe it to be overdone, although I know it happens IRL)