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review 2019-11-12 16:18
What Kind of Girl...
What Kind of Girl - Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Trigger warning: Abuse, self-harm, bulimia 

 

Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. 

 

I think this book did a very good job of showcasing how domestic violence can occur with teens. The last time I recall having a big discussion about this was when that Lifeftime movie starring Fred Savage and Candace Cameron called "No One Would Tell" that followed a young couple in love, but the boy in questions starts abusing the girlfriend. That movie showed how many people knew what was going on and how more people should speak up when they suspect someone they love is being abused. That said, the book's switching POVs among several teen girls was distracting and caused me to not engage as much as I should have while reading. Everything is eventually revealed, but I felt myself slightly annoyed because this book really didn't need a gimmick. 

 

"What Kind of Girl" shows the different people who are linked together after one of the most popular boys at North Bay Academy, Mike Parker, is accused by his girlfriend of him hitting her. The book follows different teen girls in this one with them only being identified as "the girlfriend," "the popular girl," "the bulimic," and "the pothead." Eventually the author reveals who is who in this one. 

 

I didn't get a very good sense of the male in this story, Mike Parker. He's obviously abusive, but the book chooses (rightfully so) to focus on the teen girls in this story and the widening sides at the school with those who don't believe Mike hit his girlfriend and those that do.  The girlfriend chapters were the best in my mind. That said, I just got tired of jumping around after a while. When the book reveals who is who though it was much easier to read in my opinion. It just felt very gimmicky and I don't think the book needed that, that's the main reason I gave this book three stars. The book also starts to read as repetitive after a while. When Sheinmel reveals who the girls are in the book things become clearer, but I think that could have been dealt with better earlier. I can see this turning off some readers after a while with them not wanting to wade through all of this. 

 

The setting of this book is North Bay Academy. Through the multiple POVs you get the sense the school is diverse, but also has a lot of wealthy classmates mixed in with many people, the principal included, shocked that Mike could hit anyone. And of course there are a lot of people questioning why "the girlfriend" put up with it then. I thought this book tackled a lot of strong subject matter well, and others a little rushed. I think it was good though that we have a young adult book talking about abuse between younger people. I think the last young adult book that did that I read was Sarah Dessen's "Dreamland."


The ending was okay, the book really didn't grab me much except when I was trying to work out the connection between all of the girls in this one. 

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text 2019-11-05 16:03
Reading progress update: I've read 22%.
What Kind of Girl - Alyssa B. Sheinmel

A look at abuse between teens and the many sides key people at this school take about it. We get chapter headings with: The Girlfriend, The Bulimic, The Popular Girl, and the Pothead. We find out that each girl so far has different thoughts about the boyfriend in this story, Mike, who is accused of hitting his girlfriend. 


Right now I feel very sorry for the girlfriend character because she still wonders at this point did she do something to cause the first fight where he slapped her.

 

Getting interesting perspectives from the other people in this story. 

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review 2019-08-27 14:00
Review: A Danger to Herself and Others
A Danger to Herself and Others - Alyssa B. Sheinmel

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Unreliable narrators aren’t usually my thing. They make me uncomfortable. The whole premise of this book made me uncomfortable.

 

A perfect daughter of psychologists institutionalised for a crime. She’s convinced she did no wrong (even though it’s obvious from the start she did.) Her logic is flawed and frightening but also…in a weird way vey plausible. Which makes it all the more frightening.

 

Hannah is a very intelligent girl who has a habit of latching onto people and calling herself the perfect best friend. She’s not cruel or violent or anything. She’s manipulative without even realising what she’s doing.  She’s doing a summer programme at a college and something terrible happens to her roommate.

 

Police are called and they all think Hannah is responsible. She’s labelled “a danger to herself and other” and put in a hospital for evaluation until the trial. Despite how uncomfortable this book made me as a reader, it’s extraordinarily well written. It’s compelling and page turning and you just have to know what’s going on. What happened with the roommate, what makes Hannah the way she is? Is she faking it and a very good actress – or is she really just nuts and doing a good job of covering it up and trying to convince everyone she’s normal and no threat to anyone?

 

It’s a harrowing experience following Hannah as she wakes up in the hospital and goes through talking to the doctors and learning how things work and what she has to do to convince everyone what happened was an accident.

 

Slowly, we learn what really happened. The truth about Hannah’s involvement and what might happen next.  What makes it all the more believable is there’s no black and white right and wrong way to handle the outcome. It’s not a fair outcome, really but it’s a realistic one and something that highlights the tough decisions that justice systems sometimes have to make.

 

It’s a difficult book to get through but a really good one.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and SOURCEBOOKS Fire for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2019-01-24 09:03
A heart-wrenching read about one girl’s experience inside an institution as mental illness takes over; Sheinmel brings attention to the stigma around the issue in this important book
A Danger to Herself and Others - Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Hannah Gold has been ‘wrongly institutionalized’, for something that was obviously an accident; her best friend Agnes took a horrific fall (pushed?), ending up in the ICU, her life forever changed. But Hannah’s life is forever changed too, she has been sent away to languish in an institution, missing valuable time before school starts, being evaluated at a judge’s order by a doctor, and with nothing but time to figure out how to get herself out of there.

Hannah has been deemed ‘a danger to herself and others’.

 

The novel starts with Hannah just arriving at ‘the institute’ and the book follows her entire experience there, told in first-person and very much as though it’s comes from deep within Hannah’s complex, non-stop brain. All her anxieties and questions spill out constantly, her thinking is erratic, and she darts back and forth from the present and past as she tries to make sense of what is happening. She is highly intelligent so she knows that if she make friends and gets certain people on her side, maybe she can gain privileges and shorten her stay. Her roommate Lucy understands her, and it seems Dr. Lightfoot is going along with her plan.

This starts out feeling like a thriller, but we gradually are caught up in Hannah’s convoluted thought-processes, and it’s a novel about what it looks like when a young girl’s mental illness takes over and how her unraveling takes hold, even when she thinks she is in control. 

 

This book is one of the most artfully brilliant books written with regards to what mental illness can look like, and I really felt gripped by every page because of it. Author Alyssa Sheinmel has done more than write a YA novel, she has written an experience on paper. People fear mental illness, and right they should. It’s scary. 

I read this book and at times I felt like I was losing grasp of things just like Hannah was. And I have also been in that place myself before. Not to the same extent but I’ve been through my own personal trials that have led me to therapy, to panic attacks, to struggle with depression, anxiety, self-harm and twice (many years ago now) having a stay at the hospital (at my choice) after traumatic events. It’s frightening to feel like your mind is not your own, and to feel like you need help. In Hannah’s case, she doesn’t even realize it. And then she becomes A Danger to Herself and Others.

 

Mental illness has SUCH a stigma to it and it needs to change so that people will reach out to get HELP, offer help, and make help more available. People need to be able to talk about it and not turn away. Sufferers shouldn’t be getting more ill or even dying because they can’t or won’t get help. HELP shouldn’t be a dirty word. Mental health treatment is also woefully expensive in this country and often not covered by insurance.

Sheinmel is right to not even put a specific name on the illness that Hannah suffers from because at the end of the day, does it really matter? If she had done that with this story, her character, with all her flaws as well as her wonderful attributes, would have been reduced to her diagnosis. Which is what we tend to do once we know what people are suffering from. We tend to forget that they are people (like Hannah), not statistics or names of illnesses. 

 

This is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching read, and it will surprise you as much as it will keep you guessing. It left me with tears in my eyes and I hope that this will encourage more understanding and compassion for those affected by mental illness. 

 

*I gratefully received this ARC as part of Miss Print’s ARC Adoption Program. Thank you!

 

 A Danger to Herself and Others will be published on 2.5.19 by Sourcebooks.

 

 

 

**If you or a loved one needs help for mental illness, or you just want more information about mental health, contact NAMI, the National Alliance for Mental Illness.

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/39986808-a-danger-to-herself-and-others
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review 2018-01-23 16:05
R.I.P. Eliza Hart - Alyssa B. Sheinmel

This will be a short review, because I don’t want to give anything away, and this is a slowly-unfolding mystery that is best experienced through reading it. I don’t want to spoil anything! So… I requested to join this blog tour because (1) I’d read Second Star by Alyssa a few years ago and really enjoyed it, and (2) I love mysteries and boarding school stories, and since this one had both I figured I couldn’t go wrong. I hadn’t expected the book to be so heavily focused on mental health issues, but I’m so glad I was able to have this reading experience. Although I say it is “heavily focused” on mental illness, I don’t mean to imply that it’s a heavy or super sad book, because amazingly enough it’s not. It’s a very well done portrait of mental illness in several forms, while also giving us a mystery you’re eager to see solved, a struggling-at-boarding-school experience, and even budding romance!

 

For several reasons, I really connected with the characters in this book, both Ellie and Eliza. I am claustrophobic myself, though I’ve never had such a severe form as Ellie does. I have, however, had a few panic attacks in small spaces, especially times when I’ve had to have MRIs (ugh I hate those). So I understood what Ellie was going through, even though my issue is not as severe as hers. I have also had experience with someone very similar to Eliza’s father (my brother-in-law), and I can say without a doubt that Alyssa’s portrayal of him and the effect on those around him was spot on. I was writing in the margins of my ARC very early on when he was on the page as to what I thought the issue was, and I turned out to be right. I know that’s very vague, but I really don’t want to give anything away. 

 

Overall, I just want to get across that Alyssa’s portrayal of people struggling with, surviving with, and living fully with mental health issues is carefully drawn, sympathetic, and never maudlin. I’d recommend reading the author’s note at the end, in which Alyssa explains her thinking behind the book and some of the work she did to ensure accurate portrayals of various mental health issues. She also does a wonderful job showing how mental illness affects not only the person afflicted but also those around them, be they family or friends, co-workers or classmates. I highly recommend reading this book, even if you’re not one who normally enjoys “issue books.” It’s really not maudlin or overly heavy, nor is it preachy when dealing with a tough subject. The balancing act Alyssa strikes in this book with Eliza’s story is darn near perfect; I truly don’t think I’ve seen such a straightforward, unflinching, and sympathetic look at this issue in any book I’ve read before. 

 

Again, I know this is rather vague, but I don’t want to give anything away and ruin the reading experience. I would just encourage you to check it out for yourself. It’s a relatively short, easy read, and I think you’ll find yourself quickly turning the pages just as I did. If you read R.I.P. Eliza Hart, I’d love to know what you think of it!

 

Rating: 4 stars!

 

Thank you to Scholastic Press for the ARC copy of this book for purposes of review. This is my honest and voluntary rating and review. Thanks also to Rockstar Book Tours for including me on the blog tour!

 
 
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