Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Realistic YA Fiction
What did you like about the book? Mel is like any 16-year-old struggling to balance school work, a job at the local nursing home, new friendships, potential new love, family relationships… and a deep grief from her past. Only add into this that she also has bipolar disorder which is mostly managed by medication but not completely as she cycles through moods faster than many with the illness which provide unique challenges. The focus of the story as we begin is Mel trying to figure out how to manage her new friendships and perhaps repair old friendships all while keeping everyone from really knowing the real Mel. There are some great characters cast in here that really draw you in with their flawed reality. No one here is unbroken in some way; just as in real life, everyone in this sunny California town has problems and challenges to navigate. The pace is fast and Mel’s narration voice is very easy to slip into. Add David’s manner of “avoiding small talk” and you end up with a very thoughtful, honest, deep look into a life (one potential life, that is) with bipolar disorder. It’s a great look at broken friendships and healing them as well. The diversity in here was also more notable than many in YA with not only diversity in sexuality but also in race and religion throughout the cast. Very well done and enjoyable (if dark at times) book! The joy of this book is that it isn’t “one thing”. It’s not just “a sick girl story” and it’s not just a “coming of age/sexuality” story and it’s not just a “friendships and family in high school drama” story. It weaves all of these together, much as real people have to do with their real lives; which is part of what makes it so quickly readable.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing not to like but a heads up that it does reference suicide and discuss the idea and characters who have done or thought about it. This isn’t a light and fluffy read, it’s thought-provoking.
To whom would you recommend this book? This will appeal to fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell for the thoughtful and interesting characters as well as the love stories woven into regular YA life drama. Also great for anyone who is sick of reading books that get mental illness (particularly bipolar disorder) so glaringly and seemingly purposefully wrong. Would be good for a book group focused on the topic of mental illness or even of learning to trust people enough to be yourself.
Who should buy this book? High Schools, Public Libraries
Where would you shelve it? YA Fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: April Duclos, Hudson Public Library, Hudson MA
Date of review: 3/9/17