This is a pretty fascinating look at love, loyalty, and mental illness. I gained a whole new perspective about schizophrenia, something that I think we could all use. I think a lot of readers will connect with April, the protagonist in this book. She believes so completely in the love she has found that it blinds her to the truth, and I think we can all say we have felt that way. This book isn’t for everyone, but if you like a darker contemporary YA romance, this will probably appeal to you.
“I was the one he trusted. I was the one he loved, the only one who believed him, even when his own mother had locked him up and thrown away the key. And now, I was going to pass down the white tiled hallway, knock on his doctor’s office door, slam his secret notebook on her desk and make her read it, make her understand what he was hiding, make her see what only I had seen.”
Everything about Jonah is unexpected. On the first day of school, he sits next to April, when he could have chosen to sit with the popular girl. He turns down an invitation to join the school team and declares he’d rather paint. He encourages April to develop her musical talent and shrugs off the bullies that torment them.
April isn’t surprised to find herself falling for Jonah. The unexpected part is when he falls for her too.
But the giddy happiness of their first romance begins to fade when Jonah’s unpredictability begins to take a darker turn. April understands that her boyfriend is haunted by a painful memory, but his sudden mood swings worry her. She can’t explain his growing fear of cellphones, electric keyboards, and of sounds that no one else can hear. Still, no matter what happens, April is sure that she’ll always stand by him.
Until Jonah finally breaks and is committed to a psychiatric ward.
Until schizophrenia changes everything.
Though everyone urges her to let him go, April stays true to Jonah. But as the boy she adores begins to disappear in front of her, she has to face her worst fear: that her love may not be enough to save him.
I always think it is interesting when a protagonist has to learn that a virtue can also be a liability. Loyalty is something that most people value highly, so when April is determined to be her boyfriend’s ally in a world that is full of people he can’t trust, most readers will appreciate that. The problem occurs when her loyalty to him drives her to make choices that are potentially harmful to both of them. This, too, readers will appreciate. Who hasn’t kept quiet about something troubling out of loyalty? It is this universal connection, this human value of loyalty, that allows readers to be more open and empathetic to the serious mental illness in this book. Through April’s eyes and April’s hope, readers are given a clear and understandable picture of symptoms, crisis, and treatment of schizophrenia. Since most of us have been educated about that mental illness solely from episodes of shows like Criminal Minds, it isn’t any wonder that perceptions are usually pretty negative. This book allows readers to develop a better and less frightening understanding. Don’t get me wrong, this book doesn’t sugar coat the ugly – there were a few pretty tense and unsettling moments actually, but I certainly gained some insight, and this book goes a long way towards diminishing the stigma of mental illness with readers. The style did feel a little pedantic at times and it dragged a little, especially when it was therapy time, but overall it read more like a work of fiction instead of an after school special. I cared about these characters, and I wanted them to get the romantic relationship they deserved. I think most YA readers will feel the same way. I would recommend it to those who enjoy romance fraught with obstacles or who have an interest in mental illness.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.