It’s Christmas Eve!!! I hope all that are celebrating Christmas are enjoying the holidays, and that those who aren’t are enjoying their December (and holidays and traditions that you take part in). I have a fun post planned for tomorrow, but for Blogmas day 24, I’m going to be posting a book review!
Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape…
Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there’s been a mistake. She didn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn’t a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side.
Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.
Rating: 4 stars
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for sending me a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This novel starts readers off in a mental hospital with the main character, Hannah, after a terrible accident that put her summer program roommate into a coma. It’s immediately obvious that the parent’s of Agnes (the now comatose roommate) believe that Hannah is at fault for what happened. Now, Hannah finds herself locked in a room with a small window, no way out, and nothing to do but wait until the doctors and judge realize that “she’s not crazy“.
This story was honestly surprising. I’ve come across many novels written about psychiatric holds, but never one quite like this. Readers are thankfully taking in everything from Hannah’s point of view, so we really get an in depth understanding of what has happened and is continuing to happen. Hannah isn’t an extremely likable narrator. In fact, before I pulled some of the layers back further into the story, I was really frustrated with her. The first couple of chapters felt very chaotic because Hannah’s thoughts jump around a lot. Plus, readers don’t have any background information yet about why she is being held in psychiatric care, so you kind of just have to push through the beginning to find your footing. At first, this kind of feels like a mean-girl story, but from the POV of the mean-girl (which, after racking my brain, I don’t think I’ve read before). Even after finishing, I’m still convinced that Hannah embodies the trope. She’s quite the manipulator, and I don’t think that the idea is supposed to be that these qualities are tied to her mental illness. Actually, I’m pretty positive that they aren’t.
The other characters weren’t given much development, but for most of them, this seems very purposeful and it certainly works for the story. This novel is about Hannah’s journey to discovering her diagnosis and coming to terms with it, so it’s much more important that we see development through her primarily. In a way, some of these characters help. Lucy, for instance, doesn’t have a huge presence throughout at least half of the book, but she is still vastly important to the story and to what Hannah is going through. I think that Sheinmel did a really great job molding all of the characters to make them fit into Hannah’s world.
Now, I’ve never experienced the disease that Hannah has (which I won’t talk about because it pretty much spoils the whole story), so I can’t really say whether or not the representation is accurate or not. However, I will say that this is one of the few times I’ve come across a book that tries to break down the demonized outlook on said disease, instead of trying to capitalize off of the stereotype surrounding it. Hannah is very descriptive of her experience, which really helps the readers take in her story. However, this can be a bit of a triggering read if you’ve struggled heavily with mental illness, or have ever been under a psychiatric hold yourself.
Overall, this is definitely a worthwhile read if you’re looking for some mental health representation with a little bit of thrill to it. Hannah’s thoughts can be a bit overwhelming at times, but the story is written really well. Her journey is an interesting one to ride along with, but I think that if you do, you’ll find yourself entangled in the mess and jumble of Hannah’s reality. And you might even love it.