Wednesday, December 14, 2016

HIGHLY ILLOGICAL BEHAVIOR BY JOHN COREY WHALEY - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley.



I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love reading books about mental illness. I find them really interesting and can usually relate well to them. And thankfully, this book was no exception.

To give you a brief summary, this story follows Solomon, a seventeen year old who has agoraphobia. Three years ago he jumped into the school water fountain and has been homeschooled and hasn't left his house since. Through the story we see him finding friends, or I suppose friends finding him, and his attempts at making it to his backyard. The story is told in two perspectives, of course, Solomon's but also one of his new friends, Lisa's perspective as well. Lisa is applying to the second best psychology program in the country and needs a fantastic essay on her experiences with mental health to get her a scholarship. Lisa decides that if she can work with Solomon and help 'cure' him, she will win.

But things get messy. She doesn't tell Sol about the essay and when she invites her boyfriend Clark into the circle, he becomes fast friends with Sol and threatens to tell him about the essay if she writes it.

I don't want to say anymore and spoil things, so I'll leave it at that.

I think what I appreciated the most about this book was Whaley's portrayal of Sol's agoraphobia. He has the characters explain what it is for the readers who don't know and writes it in a sympathetic light. There is no romanticizing Sol's illness, like in some novels. We see the panic attacks, the debilitating fear of going outside. All of this is very real for Sol and we see it firsthand.

I really liked Sol's character, he was funny and I guess just so normal. And I suppose that is Whaley's whole point. Most people with mental illness are the same as everyone else, they're not scary or socially awkward. Mental illnesses are so common these days and Whaley is showing that you don't have to BE any type of person to have one, you just have one.

I didn't love Lisa as much. Even though her heart was in the right place, and she really did make some progress with Sol, I think instead of observing him and trying to 'fix' him (I say 'fix' in scare quotes because mental illness isn't really something you fix like a cold or chicken pox. There is no magic medicine that cures all symptoms), she should have worked harder at being a friend. Then, when she wasn't around, she gets jealous of Sol and her boyfriend, Clark hanging out without her. I felt like she should have just been in the moment and it would have saved a lot of people from themselves.

At the beginning of the novel, I didn't really love Clark. He seemed a little cookie cutter but then he started interacting with Sol and they became fast friends. They both love Star Trek and comics; the like all the 'nerdy' things Clark is too afraid to tell his other friends about. Clark did really grow on my and I think I liked him better than Lisa.

I also really loved Sol's parents and grandma in this book. A lot of times in YA we get absent parents; either working all the time or just never really mentioned and in this book we see the teenagers interacting with Sol's parents in a way that is really refreshing.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!