Freaking Out

Edited by Polly Wells

Published in June, 2013 by Annick Press

Length: 130 Pages

Genre: YA Non-fiction; YA Mental Illness

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

Freaking Out features thirteen vignettes written by teenagers, as well as those in their early twenties, about an event during their adolescent to high school days that caused them severe anxiety. Ranging from bullying, a loss of a parent, a fear of dogs, and more, the authors describe the anxiety they felt and how they managed to survive and get over the said anxiety.

With the exception of three to five stories, a lot of the authors anxieties were solved either pretty immediately, or suddenly on its own. For one teen, he was afraid of dogs, which seemed more of a phobia than an anxiety. At the end of his vignette, he had successfully overcome his serious anxiety simply by being in the same room as a dog. Another teen, who was afraid of public speaking, had a line about cutting her stomach; it was a sentence that was not given enough attention. I would have preferred to learn about the map she craved into her skin. It seemed insignificant when it is, in reality, a serious addiction that is not to be treated lightly. One female teen who was bullied, was suddenly cured of her intense anxiety by a single talk with her guidance counselor. I felt those few stories were rushed to a conclusion and resolution. I felt too much of a disconnect to them.

There were a couple I did feel connected to. Their struggles were not minimized and felt genuine. I understand people’s anxieties are different in their severity, but the vignettes written with more serious anxieties, like OCD and anxieties over becoming a refuge, were ones I could emphasize with; and felt connected on an emotional level. I felt their hopes, fears, and resolutions truly in my core.

Unfortunately, the ones I did like were few in between the  collection of thirteen stories. A majority of the stories were written well, but their anxieties and how they dealt with them did not connect with me. Sadly, I would not recommend this collection as one to read about this topic. Anxiety is a tough issue that many people, including teens, suffer through.  This collection’s representation of that just fell so flat for me to recommend.