Emma is all set for a great winter break from school. She has all these plans of getting together with her boyfriend, her friends, and spending time with her parents. But when she gets home, she finds her mom is acting strangely and soon finds out that her mother is having a schizophrenic break. She struggles to accept this new information and to reconcile this woman who hears voices in her head with the same woman who sent her care packages during camp that were the envy of everyone. At the care facility her mother is sent to, Emma meets a boy who understands her and what she’s going through better than her boyfriend ever could. Emma wants answers but she’s terrified of getting them. What happens if she ends up just like her mother?
The concept of this book was what drew me to it. A young woman struggling with the sudden news that her mother has a mental illness and her parents kept it from her, and the realization that she could end up with it too. It sounded like it would be a great, emotional, and deep read. Unfortunately it ended up pretty flat for me.
I had a really hard time with the main character. I wanted to empathize with her, and to some extent I did, but I never felt any depth to her character. I felt like I was told she was scared, that she was struggling, that she was alone, instead of being shown through her actions. Her fear seemed more based around whether her boyfriend would still love her if she ‘turned out crazy’ than actually inheriting the disease. She did research about the illness when she learned her mother had it to find out her chances of getting it but apparently didn’t do much research because she never mentioned anything about being concerned about the fact that she smoked quite a bit of pot and it’s linked with the illness.
Another thing I couldn’t get behind was the romance. Daniel, her boyfriend, was in no way perfect. Really, he was a typical seventeen year old boy, not wanting to think too much about the future, wanting to be supportive but having no idea how to be. And then there was Phil, the boy she met at the facility who she felt an instant connection with which she used as her excuse to hook up with him. Phil never felt like a real character, just a prop that was constantly used to show how inadequate Daniel was as a boyfriend. She did feel guilty at least but it still made it impossible for me to get behind either pairing.
The book was short, under 250 pages, but that didn’t make it an easy read. The parts with Emma visiting her mother and seeing her so unlike the person she was used to were hard to read because they were so true. I also liked the responsibility Emma felt toward her mother, to visit her, wanting to take care of her, and having to face the reality that she was seventeen and in school and that there were people better equipped to help than her.