Tag Archives: mental illness

Review The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

A heartwarming debut novel, soon to be a major movie by David O. Russell.

“Aawww shucks!” NPR’s Nancy Pearl said. “I know that’s hardly a usual way to begin a book review, but it was my immediate response to finishing Matthew Quick’s heartwarming, humorous and soul-satisfying first novel . . . This book makes me smile.”

Meet Pat Peoples. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure him a happy ending—the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being haunted by Kenny G!

David O. Russell, the Oscar-nominated director of The Fighter, is helming his own adaptation of The Silver Linings Playbook. Due in theaters this Thanksgiving, the movie features Bradley Cooper (Peoplemagazine’s Sexiest Man Alive) in the role of Pat, alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker, and Jacki Weaver. As the award-winning novelist Justin Cronin put it: “Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, The Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful debut.”

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Page Count: 289
Source: My copy.
Rating: 3/5
I’ve got to stop reading the book just because I want to see the movie. That’s not to say this book is bad, but the movie looked really funny and cute and I love Bradley Cooper and I like Jennifer Lawrence and I didn’t even know there was a book until I saw the movie cover at the bookstore and, well, I think I would have really just enjoyed the movie. And now I don’t think I will. As much.

Like I said, the movie looked really funny and cute and the book is well… it’s not really funny or cute. At all. It’s sad and depressing and kind of twisted. Pat’s thirty-five year old mind has been reverted to a really immature teenager’s mind due to a traumatic experience. And no one in the book – not even his psychiatrist – really says he is acting that naive, but really. I mean, he actually refers to things as “apart time” and thinks his life is a movie. It’s really sad. And it’s painfully obvious to the reader that he is just so wrong about everything, but you just have to ride it out with him.

I did end up rating this book higher than I thought I would, due to the somewhat satisfying ending (albeit a bit rushed), but mostly didn’t enjoy it because I thought I would be getting something other than what I got. If you go into this book expecting a quirky, funny, light read, I think you’ll be disappointed like I was. It is quirky, kind of, but not very funny, in my opinion. I mean, I laughed a few times, but mostly this book tackles the seriousness of mental illness, and the things people do when they are learning to cope with it. And Pat copes with it by working out (way too much I think – he is quite obsessive about it) and watching football. I mean, really. If you’re like Tiffany and you hate football, you probably don’t want to read this book.

I did enjoy Pat and some of the relationships in this book – especially his mother and his brother, Jake – but the love story was kind of botched for me. I didn’t agree with the way the author pushed the romance on these characters. I think the interpretation that fucked up people can only be with fucked up people (and I’m not saying the mentally ill are “fucked up”, but “fucked up” is exactly how Pat and Tiffany are portrayed and treated) is bullshit. I didn’t necessarily have a problem with Pat and Tiffany as the people that they were (except for Tiffany’s grave mistakes), but I think that two people should be together because they want to, not because they should or because they are settling for one another. And that’s kind of what it seemed like to me. Maybe I’m being naive myself or maybe I’m just super lucky to have found someone I truly love, but the whole thing just seemed forced.

I “liked it” (Goodreads rating) because of the characters. I wasn’t necessarily a fan of Pat and Tiffany’s relationship or the football or the working out or even the somewhat strange dancing competition, but I really liked Pat and his mom and Jake and Dr. Patel. I thought they were all great people that I could really connect with.

Unfortunately, this novel spoils several books that I wanted to read, including The Bell Jar and Catcher in the Rye. In his story, Pat actually reads these books and tells us the ending of every one (there is like five books total). So, if you want to avoid a serious spoiler alert for a bunch of classics, you probably want to be careful with this one.


Review Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz & Ron Bass

What if you could dream your way into a different life? What if you could choose to live that life forever?

Sloane and Maggie have never met. Sloane is a straight-A student with a big and loving family. Maggie lives a glamorously independent life as an up-and-coming actress in New York. The two girls couldn’t be more different–except for one thing. They share a secret that they can’t tell a soul. At night, they dream that they’re each other.

The deeper they’re pulled into the promise of their own lives, the more their worlds begin to blur dangerously together. Before long, Sloane and Maggie can no longer tell which life is real and which is just a dream. They realize that eventually they will have to choose one life to wake up to, or risk spiraling into insanity. But that means giving up one world, one love, and one self, forever.

This is a dazzling debut that will steal readers’ hearts.

Genre: YA Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: October 2, 2012 (my brother’s birthday!)
Page Count: 342
Source: My copy.
Rating: 5/5

If I went with my first instinct, I would want to give this book five stars. Ideally, for me, I would give this book two ratings: one for the first half (three stars) and one for the second (five stars). But that’s just not how it works so I’ll go with four. (You’ll notice I rated it five stars. I’ll explain that later.)

This book was really two different books for me. Somewhere in the second half, without warning, it went from the story of two teenagers falling in love to a mind-bending psychological thriller. Shutter Island wasn’t as terrifying, and I really wasn’t expecting that from this book.

Lucid started out with two teenagers just trying to find their place in the world. I loved Maggie and quickly disliked Sloane (and her name). Maggie was a free-spirited, outgoing, driven young person, a girl I had to keep reminding myself was seventeen. She rose to the challenge and acted so far beyond her years it was astonishing to me. I admired her strength. Sloane, on the other hand, was an angst-ridden teenage girl who only cared about a cute boy she didn’t know, as opposed to her dead best friend. She swore to God after proudly professing her atheism and seems to care only about having a boyfriend who drives a Porsche. Which okay, is realistic. Sometimes, these are the things that teens care about. But when you put them side by side like that: Maggie, pursuing an acting career, stepping up to take care of her sister, and Sloane, ditching her brother when he really needs her because all she wants to think about is this boy (with whom her relationship is, frankly, kind of obsessive), it’s really kind of pathetic. Mostly, I just wanted to slap some sense into this girl. I wanted to wave Maggie in front of her face and yell, Pay attention! You could learn something.

And so I suffered through Sloane’s chapters because I wanted to learn more about Maggie and her glamorous, albeit lonely, life. Alongside her, I wanted to walk Jade’s dog and go to auditions and fall in love with Andrew. And her side of the story was all at once beautiful and sophisticated, told intelligently from the perspective of a seventeen year old girl turning twenty-six. And that’s not to say her life was perfect because it definitely was not, she just happened to rise to the occasion and make the very best of it, where Sloane could not.

And as I’m writing this review, I thought about changing my review to a three because of how much I disliked Sloane (and her name) and the way the ending went, but by doing that I just proved to myself how deep the psychology of this novel goes and therefore the rating will stay. Because it’s fucking brilliant.

Oh, man. I gotta give this book five stars.

Explaining the depths of this novel and how far it goes to fuck with your head is really difficult without spoiling it. There’s a word I want to say to try to explain, but I can’t even say that word because I’m afraid that will spoil it. (I even looked at other reviews. They didn’t say the word.)

Let me just say this. Everything in this novel is a piece. You may not think it is as you’re reading it and you may just think its another angst-ridden YA novel, but it’s not. It is, but it’s not. It is because it’s not. Or it’s not because it is? DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN.

Read it. Just give it a chance. It will seriously fuck with your head, terrify you to the bone, and leave you feeling breathless. And (like me), you’ll realize (hopefully not in the middle of writing a fucking review!) how brilliant it really is. I’m a bit sad that I can’t explain how passionately I feel about it for fear of spoiling it, but if you’ve read it you’ll understand. And if you haven’t, you should.


Review Miss Me Not by Tiffany King

 

They had a pact. 
Leave the world behind much as they had lived it.
No one would miss them. No harm, no foul.
Their personal demons would be left behind once and for all. 
It was the only thing they could count on. 
It was all she had.

Madison Hanson has spent the last four years being a “shadow.” Her parents ignore her. The students at her school stopped talking to her years ago, and the majority of her teachers forget she’s even there. In her desperate yearning to leave her invisible life behind, Madison makes a pact with her only friend, James Garrison, to end their lives as inconspicuously as they live them. No fuss, no muss. No one would miss her and she would miss no one. Their plan is set, and it’s all she can count on. That is, until fellow student, Mitch Peterson, beats them to the punch. Everything Madison believed in is shaken to the core when she watches the aftermath of Mitch’s death unfold. By taking his own life, Mitch unwittingly saves hers. What a selfish prick. 

She is now left with the daunting task of living. Trying to bury her demons once and for all, and finally trusting someone with her fragile existence. 

Living is hell.
Death would have been so much easier.

Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Indie
Release Date: November 23, 2012
Page Count: 316
Source: My copy.
Rating: 4/5

I ran to my Nook on release day to pick up this novel because I have heard so much about this author and suicide/depression/mental illness is so very close to my heart. Teen suicide is no easy subject to breach, and I was very interested to see King’s take on it.

It started out with this very unlikable character, Madison. But that was the point, really. She was a very angry person who just wanted to die. I would have liked more background on her’s and James’ pact, like how they came to the decision and more of their friendship pre-pact, but it was okay. For me, her inner monologue was too obvious – the author seemed to always want to point out when Madison was to have a serious thought, which felt very unnatural to me. But her desires were believable.

And then Mitch, a classmate, committed suicide, which ruined their plans. Like I said, Madison was very unlikable. King did a very good job at portraying her anger for the reader. She was an angry girl who was just seething inside. Nothing and no one could change her mind about herself, about her world. She has had her ways of coping up to this point, but obviously, those coping mechanisms aren’t working out. Enter Dean.

Dean is a genuinely good guy. He lost his friend to suicide and wants to help Madison. I enjoyed reading about Dean and his perfect family. And not perfect in a bad way either – they were all very compassionate. The way they acted, their connections with each other, were not relatable (for me) – my family isn’t really like that – but they were very believable. I believed that there could be a family out there that exists just like Dean’s family.

By the end, I thought Madison’s character and her relationship with Dean were developed well. He was quite the teenage savior and protector towards Madison. I thought their kiss was very awkward and some of their dialogue was sort of corny – I didn’t always feel the romance or the steam that Madison described – but the characters were written so well that I overlooked it. I definitely have my reservations about this novel, but the author made up for any gripes I may have with the ending. I thought the Epilogue was beautifully done and couldn’t have asked for a better closing.

All in all, I think it’s an important novel and enjoyed King’s writing. I’d definitely read more of her work.


Hi, I’m Lu, and first review, It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Hello. Welcome to lookingforseattle. I’m Lu, a first time book blogger, so hopefully I’m doing this right. Um… here’s a review. : )

Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life–which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job–Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That’s when things start to get crazy.
At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn’t brilliant compared to the other kids; he’s just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping–until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness. For a novel about depression, it’s definitely a funny story.

I know, the whole “don’t judge a book by its movie” thing, but there are some things I have to mention.

I just have to say that I’m glad I didn’t stick to my personal rule of always reading the book before I see the movie on this one. I really liked the movie but I think if I had read the book first I would have hated it.

For example, the whole stress vomiting thing was very strange. And as I was reading the book I was hoping that was just a Craig-quirk that was added for the movie. It didn’t end up that way, Craig did have a vomiting problem that was related to his depression, but it wasn’t like someone said something to him that stressed him out and he would just vomit, like the movie portrayed. It went much deeper than that, and was understandable and relatable the way the author described it.

Contrastingly, I loved Bobby in the movie, but he was completely out of character in the movie compared to the book.

There are other things I could mention about the book versus the movie, but these were the important ones.

I know that Ned Vizzini spent some time in a mental hospital, and based on the time frame in which he wrote the book between the time he was admitted, it’s clear that his experience heavily influenced his story. It’s possible that the hospital he spent time at was one of those ritzy ones that you spend the big bucks to stay at, but the way he described it in the book, was that it was the psychiatric ward at your everyday hospital. In that case, the world building and character relationships were very unrealistic. These hospitals do not have art “classes” or music volunteers – there is hardly a place for the patients to convene – and your first days are not as friendly and sociable. A stay at the psychiatric ward of a community hospital is very daunting and scary, and I don’t know that the author portrayed this as well as he could.

Craig was a very likeable kid, developed well as a character, a teenager who was obviously raised well by his parents. I think he was lost in his life, with nowhere to turn (that he knew of), and his best friend and supposed crush didn’t help. Aaron was basically an asshole and Nia a complete bitch. They deserved each other.

By the end, I think his new friends and girlfriend helped lead him to destiny, and, ultimately, to happiness. It was a good enough book that I think teens and adults suffering (or knowing someone) from depression can relate to and get something important out of.