Theme: Mental Illness
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Vanished by E.E. Cooper : Within the span of a week one of Kalah’s best friends runs away and the other commits suicide. She’s heartbroken to know that she failed one friend and that the other seems to have completely ignored their brief romantic relationship. She’s soon to figure out that the girl texting her pretending to be her run-away friend isn’t Beth at all, and that something more sinister might be behind the body pulled out of the water weeks later. Meanwhile she’s struggling with anxiety and panic attacks and is frustrated with people believing she’s making patterns out of thin air based on her OCD. She’s determined to find the truth, even if she doesn’t have anyone else left to help her. The book compares itself to Pretty Little Liars and I can see the inspiration, there’s the same incompetent police force and adults ready to belittle the worries of teenage girls. This book’s got a lot of twists and I’m regretting that I didn’t pick up the second at the same time I got the first because now I have to wait in suspense. I’m not patient enough for this.
Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz : Etta is tired of struggling to fit in. She’s bisexual, black, and recovering from an eating disorder. No part of her seems to fit society’s idea of an anorexic girl in need of therapy, but she knows herself well enough to notice that something’s not right. She’s ready to leave her Nebraska small town and head off to a prestigious performing arts school in New York City, but first she has to make it through the audition process. There’s another girl from her group therapy auditioning for the same spot, and her and Etta go from competitors to friends as Etta tries to help Bianca, who’s nowhere near the path to recovery that Etta has fought for herself. This is a really sweet novel about finding friendship with people who on paper appear to be your complete opposite. I love that as much as Etta is helping Bianca, she’s also to keep Bianca’s family from demanding too much and pushing their daughter away.
The IHOP Papers by Ali Liebegott : Prior to this novel, Francesca found herself institutionalized for self-harming. Now she’s followed her community college professor to San Francisco to live with her and her two lovers. She’s waitressing at IHOP, jealous at sharing her ex-professor’s attention, infrequently attending AA meetings, and no less likely to hide in a bus stop bathroom and take a razor to her arm. This was a great book that shows how healing is non-linear and that it’s just as important to separate yourself from unhealthy romantic relationships/friendships as to leave a toxic home life behind. It’s frustrating to read and watch everyone around Francesca gravitate towards enigmatic yet harmful people but so much more powerful when she eventually separates herself from these situations.
Soft on Soft by Em Ali : June thought her anxiety would keep her from a happy relationship. That is, until she meets Selena, sunshine personified and a fat, black, demisexual model in a world prepared for none of those things. Selena falls for June’s makeup and cat Instagram and brings her in to do makeup for a shoot. Little does she know she’ll be crushing hard on the pansexual, Arab-Persian girl. Selena is bubbly and ready to be in the spotlight while June values her privacy and struggles to deal with big public gatherings, even suffering a panic attack at the thought of being watched. Yet the two end up happy and making it in a world that really does need more #fatgirlsinlove. This is the fluffiest book I’ve read in a while; it’s just full of happiness and comfort and the healthiest of healthy relationships.