On a Scale of One to Ten by Ceylan Scott. Chicken House, 2019. ISBN 9781338323788
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Realistic fiction
What did you like about the book? Mental illness is explored through the experience of a teenager who is trying to deal with the death of a friend, for which she feels responsible. She is self harming and unable to let go of thoughts that she should die. Switching back and forth between the event of her friend’s death (“Then”) and her time at the psychiatric hospital (“Now”), Tamar narrates her thoughts in real life, the psychosis warring with her rational thoughts. It’s a riveting story, and one which my teenage self would have found fascinating. Tamar’s family, school friends, hospital friends, and hospital staff all ring true. The reader really doesn’t know if she will make good on killing herself, turning the book into something different than a realistic tale of deep depression and Borderline Personality Disorder. The author herself was in a psychiatric hospital in her teens, when she began this book.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The story takes place in the U.K. and there are cultural references which were unknown to me.
To whom would you recommend this book? Folks who like contemporary tales of mental illness may find this fascinating – teens ages 15 and up because some of the self harm is quite graphic and may be unsettling to younger readers.
Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Teen fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: April 16, 2019