Posts Tagged ‘random house’

I picked up Words on Bathroom Walls fresh off of the devastating DNF that was Made You Up, by Francesca Zappia I had just finished Eliza and Her Monsters, which is a beautiful masterpiece of literary fiction, and I had such high hopes for Zappia’s first book. I was disappointed to discover that Zappia had not really researched schizophrenia at all. This all to say, going into Words, my expectations were not high.

I found myself pleasantly surprised.

Walton’s first book is a treasure, and it’s everything I wanted Made You Up to be. Main character Adam is schizophrenic. He’s received the go ahead to start a new clinical trial for a drug that will help him to manage his symptoms in conjunction with weekly visits to a therapist that he’s not willing to talk to. Rather than talk, Adam writes detailed journal entries that are letters to this therapist, both describing his journey within schizophrenia and answer any questions that come up within sessions when he doesn’t see the point of talking out loud. Adam leans heavily on the new drug, hoping that it will allow him to live a “normal” life, go to school, have a girlfriend–and that no one will ever know about his schizophrenia.

What I love most about this book is that it’s not pretty. It doesn’t wrap up with a pretty bow that says “schizophrenia is easy to handle.” Staying spoiler free, nothing outside of the Goodreads summary on the book’s main page, but not every medication works for every patient. I love how believable Adam is, how we get to watch his struggle, in his own words, as he adjusts to the med and all of the ups and downs that come with his hallucinations. Some days are good; some days are bad–and that’s the true story about mental illness.

The side characters in Words are also incredibly well crafted. Maya is top notch, as is the therapist–but the truly masterful thing is how we see them through Adam’s eyes in his journal entries. Walton creates entire characters through Adam, and it’s beautiful.

I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn more about schizophrenia in an easy to digest way. I commend Walton for the clear effort that she put into researching this book, and for the way that it doesn’t seem like any work for her at all. I would recommend this book to people with mental illness, if for nothing else than to show that there are people out there who 100 percent care about portraying it right. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves books. Just don’t expect a book that’s all flowers and rainbows all the time, because that’s not what Walton was going for. However, even in the darkest parts of the book there is still light.

Five stars.

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Hey, y’all! It’s been a while. I’ve been inspired by BookCon to get back on the writing book reviews train, so hopefully the motivation sticks! It got to be not fun for a while there, being REQUIRED to review books. So for a change of pace, I’ll review a few I am absolutely not required to! Starting with this gem!

I had a fantastic time at BookCon. The most notable event for me, was, of course, meeting Sarah Dessen. I’ve read her books since her beginning as a writer, and I was very excited to tell her so. For her part, she was super sweet and wonderful. And her publicist handed out flowers. It was amazing. Ignore my messy hair and weird eyes in this photo, but please share the joy:


I was super stoked to get Once and For All a few days early, so that I could have it done by the time the rest of the world got their hands on it. The book follows the standard Dessen formula: girl meets boy; girl rehashes some past traumatic event; girl avoids getting with boy we all know she should be with; girl ends up with boy, “healed” from trauma. We all know that I am not a romance person. But for some reason, Dessen and her formulaic approach to contemporary romance just really work for me.  I love her writing, her stories, her characters…etc etc. Clearly I am a fan.

To the specifics of THIS book!

I love Louna as the protagonist. I love her name, for starters, the combination of Louis and Natalie. Louna is a strong girl, but she’s damaged in the typical Dessen fashion. A romance set in a wedding planning society is a fun concept, but with massive cheese potential. Once and For All, does not, however, stray to the land of the cheese. The wedding planning aspect forms a nice background to the story–damaged girl sees everyone else falling in love, but she remains cynical after the terrible events that befell her first epic romance. Louna doesn’t wish. Louna doesn’t have expectations. She comes to work for her mother’s company, and she makes weddings run smoothly, but she does not believe in true love. 

“‘Do you believe that true love can last forever?’ … I knew she wanted a yes or no, something concise and specific and if this were any other question, I probably would have given it to her. But instead, I just sat there, silent, as I tried to put the image in my head … into any kind of words”

Enter Ambrose. He is the fairly typical Dessen male counterpart to the female protagonist. I have to be honest and say that he didn’t totally ring true for me. I wanted to like him, so badly. The text itself screamed at me to like him, especially when he saved the dog (read the book to find out more, that’s as spoiler-y as I get!). But there was something about him that didn’t ring true to me. I think it’s that, while we see Louna come full circle as a character, we don’t see Ambrose actually change. He is A one minute, and he is B the next. Others may disagree, but his evolution is too abrupt in my opinion, especially when laid beside the evolution of our lead. Louna gets there in a legit way for me. We can follow the gears in her head shifting:

“Everything in weddings and life had its phases, and if you were smart, you learned to appreciate them all. What really mattered, though, were the people in those moments with you. Memories are what we have and what we keep, and I held mine close … I was choosing to believe we had time, plenty of it.”

I just love Louna. This is the same for me for all of Dessen’s female protagonists, and it comes from the way she crafts them–Dessen’s writing of her lead is so strong that she gets us inside their heads. We follow them every step of the way down their healing path, and we’re so inside their point of view that we feel with them when they get there. I think this love is, largely, what makes Ambrose a weak counterpart for me. 

Long story short, because you’ve figured out by now that I can rave about Dessen all day long, if you like romance that’s a cut above the average, then Dessen is for you. If you like weddings and reading about behind the scenes bridal shenanigans, then Once and For All is DEFINITELY for you. Pick it up; you won’t be sorry.

4.5 stars on the Goodreads scale, .5 deduction solely for my Ambrose dislike. Agree? Disagree? Hit me up.