***TW: anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide, abuse***
**lots of spoilers are present in this review**
That’s really all I can say right now. This book was way darker than I thought it’d be, but not in a bad way. Like, it wasn’t completely free of issues, but there was a lot to make up for it.
First of all, the entire concept of this was wonderful. The idea of facing fears together was refreshing, and the way it was executed was certainly unique. I liked the diversity- Jonah’s black and has an abusive, alcoholic father, Eugene has depression, Esther anxiety, Hephzibah selective mutism, and I won’t even go into all of the phobias. There’s a lot, mental-heath-wise. In other books I’ve read like this (with a lot of a certain thing- mental health, cultural, religious, etc diversity), this often means that everything is touched on and nothing is more than skin-deep. In this, however, most subjects are explored. Jonah, the possible ‘cure’ for Esther’s anxiety, can’t do it all and is (*gasp!*) hurting- perhaps just as much as Esther is. If not more. Hephzibah has an anxiety disorder, ‘despite’ having a
wonderful incredible family and a perfectly healthy childhood. Aside from, you know. Being named ‘Hephzibah’. And Eugene’s depression and suicidal tendencies are discussed in a way I really liked- it talked about the real side of it.
(if you ignored the spoiler warning above, you really might want to think that decision over before continuing.)
I’m not entirely a fan of how Jonah forced her online, though. Not only is that… kinda illegal, I think, to post a video of someone without their consent, but he knew very well that that was something she feared. With basically everything else, she could say ‘no’ (unless he was being stubborn), but without any warning or knowledge of it, she was exposed in her most vulnerable moments. I liked Jonah, yes, but this was a bad. As one who has suffered from anxiety-related issues for a while, pulling something like this isn’t going to end up as a pleasant surprised- it’d likely send me into a mental tailspin.
Overall, this was a pretty great book. A bit fluffy, tad cheesy in places, but I loved the concept and the execution, and especially all the POLITICALLY CORRECT MENTAL HEALTH STUFF.
Let’s just take a break to appreciate that. We don’t get it often enough.