3.5 stars. (spoilers)
I usually avoid writing reviews soon as I finish reading a book. This time I decided I wasn’t going to wait.
Before I start talking about the plot and characters, I would like to address how I usually try to be cautious when reading or going into a book that speaks about Mental Illness. It has become popular to romanticise MIs, especially in YA books. I’ve seen it happen multiple times so I when I saw what this book was about – I was afraid.
Mostly, my biggest issue is using romance as a way that it becomes a “cure”, you might be depressed or dealing with any other disease but you find love and that’s it. You are now fine. Or trying to make being ill something to desire, treat it as cute and cool. Seems like authors also have a tendency to poorly represent MIs.
I got quickly attached to the characters, yesterday when I started reading by the time I was half way done, I had to force myself to stop. And yes, the book involves romance and it sort of becomes a way to initiate the healing process for Violet because of her sister’s death which doesn’t really take long due to what happens to Finch. I won’t call it insta love because it’s teenagers we are talking about plus only towards the end when Finch goes missing, Violet starts calling him her boyfriend. Other than that the relation between the two is never established even though you are aware that they are sort of a couple.
Personally, I never saw this story as a romance or something other than a book about a boy with a Mental Illness and how the world and everyone around him reacts to it plus a girl dealing with the loss of her sister.
The adults in this story – especially finch’s parents – are completely oblivious to their sons mental illness. And even though I saw some people criticising this detail about the story, I think it was actually well done. Because it’s accurate. Some parents yes but honestly, most adults will just ignore when a child/teenager shows any sort of symptoms whatsoever. The world can’t seem to be able to handle or understand Mental Illness. If they try to avoid it they will. And it’s no exception in this book.
I think overall the book accomplished the goal of showing us in an accurate way how people perceive and act around those who might be “different”. Whether it’s being bullied at school, home, ignored etc. Even Violet tells him that they are teenagers, it’s okay to get moody sometimes.
What made me consider and give this book more starts than I intended to was the authors note. This book had a lesson and something to take from this reading. How MIs are perceived and suicide is seen compared to other death causes, the impact of labels and I think that if you are going into this book don’t do it because you want romance, do it to take something out of it. And the fact the author went through something similar, therefore writing about it, really moved me and it just makes the book even more important.
If you are easily triggered or currently going through a situation that it’s going to cause this book to trigger you then I suggest you put it down and leave it for some other time. I found Finch’s death or well, the moment they find is body really intense. I cried so much and now I’m left with this feeling in my gut, overall it did not make me feel good, I feel affected by this story. I did not get a warning so if you decided to read this before reading the book – Be careful. (this just reminded me of something in the book and the use of those words is just making me feel worse).
Trigger warnings: mention of suicide, grief, depression, bipolar disorder etc.
I feel so messed up after reading this, I don’t think there’s more that I can say. Whether someone reads this book for the romance and sees it as something else, that will depend on each person.
I might make another post, once my feelings settle down and write a little more about Mental Illness and the rights and wrongs when it comes to representation in books. Especially YA because I think that’s where the problem lies the most.