Physics Meets Suicide: Falling into Place by Amy Zhang Book Review

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Falling into Place

By: Amy Zhang

Released: September 9th, 2014 by Greenwillow Books

Length: 304 Pages

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction- Mental Illness Suicide Attempt

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: BEA

 

Liz Emerson planned the perfect suicide–a car accident. But, she failed to understand the physics of it. Instead of dying, she landed in the hospital, in a coma severely injured.  Narrated by a mysterious person, revealed at the end perfectly, you are taken on a journey through the days before the attempt, the days of her recovery, and brief snapshots of her life as a child. It’s part heartbreaking, part tearjerker, and a hundred percent worth reading.

Despite the sad subject matter, this novel was able to be beautiful. The writing was close to lyrical. Everything about the novel was meticulously done. I am shocked this is a debut novel. I believe Zhang has a bright future in writing ahead of her. If she was able to beautifully capture something like suicide that is often done messy, I can’t wait to see what hard topic she will tackle next. This specific topic is often hard to write about. Yet, the way Zhang wrote Liz made me understand her in a way writers don’t often do. In Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, he tackled suicide in a way that the character blamed everyone; and, even inserted a dead joke. Zhang handled everything delicately from the way her friends, family, and crush reacted, to the feelings and self-destruction of Liz; and, then the act. It wasn’t done brutally. It wasn’t done in a way you would hate the character. It wasn’t graphic, either.

Then there is the narration itself. While I loved the character develop and the way Zhang tackled this sensitive issue, what really captured me was the creative narration. When you discover who the narrator is, it will blow your mind, it’s that creative. I loved the twist. I didn’t expect it at all. It made sense, too.  Made me love the book that much more, too.

I can’t rave enough about this book. I truly loved it.  It’s worth reading.

I Want a Museum of: The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder Book Review

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The Museum of Intangible Things

By: Wendy Wunder

Released: April, 2014 by Razorbill

Length: 302 Pages

Genre: YA Contemporary, YA Mental Illness-Bi polar

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: purchased

 

Hannah and Zoe have been best friends since they were little kids.  Hannah is the practical one. She owns her own hot dog stand. She wants to go to college, even if it’s only at county. She can’t see more for herself. Can’t see past the lake. Zoe is more adventurous. More wild. She’s artistic, creative, free-spirited. Bi-polar. 

On a particularly manic day, Zoe has decided she has had enough of their New Jersey lake town. It’s time they see more. It’s time Hannah stops settling and learns some lessons outside of school. On this adventure is where, on each new day, Zoe teaches Hannah about something–Loyalty. Envy. Obligation. Dreams. Disappointment. Fear. Negligence. Coping. Elation. Lust. Nature. Freedom. Heartbreak. Insouciance. All while have the most epic road trip. 

The Museum of Intangible Things is one of those books that has a pretty cover and is not a let down. There are books that have beautiful covers and when you crack that spine, read those first pages you are immediately disappointed. But the cover is so pretty! This is not one of those books.  I immediately fell in love with this book. First sentence, first page in love. There was something magical that just grabs you without magic. They way Wendy Wunder crafts the words and weaves a story is magic in itself. There doesn’t need to be dragons or princesses. Hannah is perhaps one of my favorite characters I have read/met this year, possibly after Zoe. Zoe was pretty phenomenal, too. They both were great. And, I don’t just like Hannah because we share a name! She is a genuine, tough, real, true to herself character who goes through a lot and comes out strong. She comes out on top. I admired her completely. Zoe was the opposite of her. She was this wild girl. Strong-willed, will-full, and kind of a parent’s worse nightmare. Yet, there was something so special about her. Then, there was her demon–her mental illness.  

Her Bi-polar 1 Disorder with psychosis was prominent in this book. Not in a scientific way or anything. But, there. Let me tell you, never have I read a book so spot on about the illness. There are tons of books, movies, and television shows that portray this serious illness wrong. Completely wrong. It’s not like that terrible medical drama Black Box. It’s mostly like Homeland. And, it’s like this. Zoe’s mania was very, very accurate. Her need for adventure, for something more at an unrealistic pace, all real. I was very impressed. Also, very moved by the end of the novel. It’s a mini tear jerker. I won’t lie. The end. THE END!!

The “lessons” in the book are both universal and true. They are meaningful; some like insouciance are fun while others are more moving. This book really makes you think. Young Adult novels can still do that. This book definitely makes my top ten list of books read this year. I would truly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. There is just this realness and rawness you don’t find too often in any kind of genre anymore.

“Perfect should never be a goal. Perfect just happens if you let it.”

 

And the Bird Says Coo: Dr.Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

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Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets

By: Evan Roskos

Released: March, 2013 by Harcourt Brace and Company

Length: 320 Pages

Genre: YA realistic contemporary-mental illness: anxiety, depression, cutting

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: Gift

 

James Whitman may not be Walt Whitman, but wishes he was. It’s better than being 16, living with a Brute and a Banshee for parents; as well as having your older sister kicked out of the house for a reason not so clear, Then there’s the depression and anxiety; plus, a pigeon for a therapist. Yes, being Walt may be better, but then this novel wouldn’t be so heartbreaking and funny; or touching and true to life.

Sixteen year old James Whitman is struggling. His older sister just got kicked out by his parents, the Brute and the Banshee. He doesn’t have many friends. His depression and anxiety is getting worse; his therapist Dr. Bird can only say so much. He’s determined to get his sister back into school after she was expelled for a reason unknown to him; and, back under the same roof. The truth he discovers is not what he expected at all. His sister was struggling much worse than he ever knew. When asked by his crush, the adorable Beth, to search for his sister’s final submission to the literary magazine, he finds out something disturbing– his sister was a cutter. Her piece had become more private and focused on her cutting with pieces of razor blades attached.

This new information, and a budding friendship with Beth, takes James on a new journey of self-discovery and what is truly going on in his life that he has ignored. It is at times heart breaking, other times funny, endearing, and sometimes sweet and inspiring. It’s a touching story about growing up and about family; being there for them and what it means to be a family.

I loved this story. I have wanted to read this book since it came out last year, but never got around to it. I’m glad I finally did. Here’s my plug. For the Nook (that’s what I have. I’m anti-kindle) it is $1.99. It is worth it. A quick read, it really affected me. There was raw honesty, great character development, the plot was entertaining and engaging, and it leaves you satisfied. I highly recommend it. It didn’t feel just like another YA book. It was very realistic; and, I think even adults would benefit from reading it. You get a sense of how hard High School can be, the effects and causes of self-mutilation (all which is very real in the book), and the reality that teens can get depression and anxiety. Some people brush it off as just puberty, but it’s real. Roskos does a nice job not being too clinical about it or bashing us in the head with it. It was all done very nicely. There is also a lot of poetry by Whitman which was really good. I enjoyed reading poems of his that I didn’t know. Overall, I believe it’s a book that should be read. Especially by teens. But, it’s just so universal, I think. And, who wants to miss out reading sessions between a pigeon therapist and James?

Happy reading!

Anxiety Freaks Me Out: Freaking Out Real-life Stories About Anxiety Edited by Polly Wells

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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.

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