Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on July 4th 2017
Fans of More Happy Than Not, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story will cheer for Adam as he struggles with schizophrenia in this brilliantly honest and unexpectedly funny debut.
Adam has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He sees and hears people who aren’t there: Rebecca, a beautiful girl who understands him; the Mob Boss, who harasses him; and Jason, the naked guy who’s unfailingly polite. It should be easy to separate the real from the not real, but Adam can't.
Still, there’s hope. As Adam starts fresh at a new school, he begins a drug trial that helps him ignore his visions. Suddenly everything seems possible, even love. When he meets Maya, a fiercely intelligent girl, he desperately wants to be the great guy that she thinks he is. But then the miracle drug begins to fail, and Adam will do anything to keep Maya from discovering his secret.
Words on Bathroom Walls is the story of Adam, a boy with schizophrenia who’s put on an experimental drug in the hopes of dialling down the hallucinations. He sees and hears things he shouldn’t, and if only he were Harry Potter, these visions would actually be real. But they’re not, so he’s put into therapy. His journey on this drug is told via a series of journal entries addressed to his therapist.
I was really interested in reading Words on Bathroom Wallsbecause as far as mental illnesses go, schizophrenia is probably one of the most elusive ones to me. That’s why I want to read more books about this “condition” so I can educate myself further. And I did learn quite a bit from Adam, though I do realise that no two diagnoses are ever the same.
Nevertheless, I never really connected to the story. I didn’t particularly enjoy reading it, but I also didn’t dislike it. It was just a whole lot of “in the middle”, which is kind of almost worse when a book doesn’t make you feel anything? I also never really found the plot in the novel – Adam is eased into his meds, and then he’s eased out of them. Not much happens. Which, of course, is fairly standard in the life of a mental health patient. But does it make for a good book? I’m not sure.
I do have to give bonus points to the fact that Adam was in a fully functional relationship that did absolutely nothing to cure his mental illness – because this “love cures all” thing is a really annoying and harmful trope in literature and so when it’s done right, I have to give kudos.
There was also this one quote I really want to share, because I think it’s something a lot of us with mental health issues think about, but I, for one, never dare to actually put it into words. But it’s here now, and I really feel this quote.
“I’m glad [my parents] have each other, but sometimes I think about how much happier everyone would be if I weren’t around. That’s when I feel sad and guilty because if anything happened to me, my mom would be devastated, but as long as I’m in her life, she’s always going to worry about whether or not I’m okay. I don’t know which is worse.
There are days I just wish I weren’t me.”
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy