Published by Sourcebooks Fire on September 1st 2015
Everything about Jonah is unexpected. On the first day of school, he sits next to April, when he could have chosen to sit with the popular girl. He turns down an invitation to join the school team and declares he'd rather paint. He encourages April to develop her musical talent and shrugs off the bullies that torment them.April isn't surprised to find herself falling for Jonah. The unexpected part is when he falls for her too.But the giddy happiness of their first romance begins to fade when Jonah's unpredictability begins to take a darker turn. April understands that her boyfriend is haunted by a painful memory, but his sudden mood swings worry her. She can't explain his growing fear of cellphones, electric keyboards, and of sounds that no one else can hear. Still, no matter what happens, April is sure that she'll always stand by him.Until Jonah finally breaks and is committed to a psychiatric ward.Until schizophrenia changes everything.Though everyone urges her to let him go, April stays true to Jonah. But as the boy she adores begins to disappear in front of her, she has to face her worst fear: that her love may not be enough to save him.
When I was reading this book, I hoped that it would end up being an awesome fit for #ShatteringStigmas. Because quite frankly, all my eggs were in this basket- it was the only mental health book I was reading in the near future, and the only one I’d read and hadn’t already reviewed. Luckily, I am very pleased to say that I would absolutely recommend this book as a mental health must-read!
Here’s the deal: April is bummed because her best friend left their school for Swanky Rich Kid Academy, and April hasn’t exactly bothered to make droves of friends. So when Jonah moves into town and takes an interest in her, she’s pretty thrilled. Of course, as we know from the synopsis, this cozy duo isn’t going to have an easy time of things. Jonah’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, and April is faced with a lot of decisions that must be hell for a young girl to face, especially when it concerns someone she cares for so much.
The things I really liked:
- There are quite literally stigmas to be shattered! There is a lot of initial denial from Jonah’s family, who basically want to find any other explanation for his behavior changes. When people find out about Jonah’s diagnosis, things aren’t great for April. (Obviously, they aren’t great for Jonah either, but he is at a hospital.) People can be so, so cruel, and this applies here. There’s a lot of taunting, and even some kids and parents saying they never want Jonah allowed back in school with the other kids. There was one quote that especially moved me, and even though I highlighted most of this page, I will share the part that really stuck with me:
“There are no casseroles for schizophrenia,” I said. “People are afraid, so they keep away. The families are embarrassed, so they hide. They pretend their son or daughter has gone abroad or is busy at school- anything to avoid telling the truth.”
- April, while often misguided and making mistakes, acts with only the absolute best intentions. She really wants to do right by Jonah and his family, and sometimes she misses the mark. Sometimes she kind of flakes on her own friends and family in the process. Sometimes she isn’t as forthcoming with information as she could be. But she means well, and that’s clear to see. I think it’s also incredibly helpful as a guide for young people. Seeing the things that, in hindsight April may have done differently and the times she made amazing choices and was so strong can really help someone in the situation better navigate their role. April has some really eye opening words for her mom in the midst of a heated discussion that resonated with me:
“You want me to abandon him now, when he needs me the most? Would you be giving me the same advice if he’d been diagnosed with cancer? Would you tell me to wave good-bye and get on with my life? ‘Aw, sucks to be you, buddy. Good luck with that.’ Is that really who you want me to be?”
- There is just some really awesome information presented in this book about schizophrenia and misconceptions. This is mainly done via Jonah’s doctors and counselors, but it is done very well. There is plot to go along with it, so it doesn’t feel like information is simply being fed, but accurate and legitimate information is being provided. There is frank discussion about the misconceptions and stereotypes, which is so refreshing to read about.
- Family and friends all over the place. No Parent-in-YA Syndrome here! Families, while absolutely far from perfect, are there, and are trying to do what they think is best. Jonah has a sister who I have fallen in love with, and his mom is just a delight. April has a mom who cares for her deeply, and a best friend who is always looking out for her. Jonah has friendship issues of his own. It’s a huge win.
The few things I didn’t love:
- It is a little insta-lovey. Yes, they are basically attached at the hip not long after meeting, but, I think it does make sense in context because they are both looking for someone to befriend. Still, maybe a wee bit farfetched, but not intolerable at all.
- I kind of wish April had been just a little more fleshed out. She becomes so involved with Jonah that I kind of lose track of April as a character at times. However, I think there’s a reason for that as well, I just cannot tell you.
Bottom Line: This book is absolutely packed with awesome messages. And the best message of all I think you’ll understand when you’ve finished the book. (It really is one of the most amazing things about this book, but I can’t mention any of it, sorry!) Your Voice is All I Hear is a must-read for everyone: to understand the stigma associated with mental health, to look at it from a loved one’s perspective, just to empathize with other human beings and obtain some fabulously accurate information while still being invested in the story. I pretty much couldn’t have chosen a better book to read for the theme of “Shattering Stigmas”.
**Quotes taken from uncorrected proof, subject to change**
Just a note, at the time I scheduled this post (you know, an hour before I posted it) Your Voice is All I Hear is on Amazon for $4.77 in paperback! That is a deal one cannot pass up, no? I’d feel bad if I did not share this amazing deal!
So guys. On the subject of stigmas, and this book relating to this concept so well, have you ever seen someone stigmatized for a mental health issue? And do you think you’d have stuck by Jonah’s side- especially as a teen?
I might have to pick this one up eventually. I’ve never heard of it before, but it sounds like something I’d love, especially if it’s well-researched and realistic.
Yes, it was quite good! I loved how honest it was. I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it!
I’ve nominated you for an award!
Aww thank you so much 😀
This book looks fantastic! I just added it to my Goodreads to-read list. I’m loving this special feature you are doing! Keep it up!
Aw thank you SO much! I really appreciate that 😀 And I hope you enjoy the book!
It does sound perfect for you right now! I like how even though for the plot she has to make mistakes that she means well. It sounds like the author really makes you care about the boy, which is really important. Kids can be so cruel, so that part is unfortunately probably accurate. I would’ve expected a quick romance but it’s a shame the main character got a bit lost in it. I’m glad you enjoyed this one.
I agree, it is important that he was likable, otherwise the story could have been a mess- we’d all have been telling her to leave 😉 And I think that even the cruel kids are super important, because you’re so right- it IS sadly accurate.
So glad to hear this one ended up being worthy of inclusion. I’m interested to check this one out for myself. Schizophrenia isn’t something I see discussed a lot in YA.
I agree, I had never seen a book where schizophrenia was a factor until this year- and I am pleased to report that the three I have read were all fabulous!
I haven’t heard of this one before but it sounds really well rounded, with the friends, family and realism and April with her own mistakes that she would make sometimes too. But I loved the general messages behind the boo, with shattering stigmas and clearing the misconceptions of schizophrenia and everything. What a fantastic read – you’re right, it couldn’t be more perfect for the event!
Lovely review Shannon!
Thanks so much! I loved the realism too- it really seemed like if this happened to someone IRL of that age, this is pretty much exactly how it would go down. I think the author really nailed it!
Great review! I’m glad to hear that this one handled the mental health issues at hand well throughout the story. I read All the Bright Places earlier this year and I was really, really frustrated by how a lot of that story romanticized the male lead’s struggles with being bipolar. Although it’s obviously a totally different illness, I’m glad to hear that this one didn’t fall into similar traps.
Aw thanks! This did NOT fall into that trap, and I wish I could explain it further, but you know, spoilers 😉 As for ATBP… I go back and forth with that one SO MUCH. Because on one hand, I do agree with you that it DID almost romanticize it… but then on the other, I think about how devastated Violet was with his erratic behavior, and how his home life was so shitty that no one even bothered to help him, you know? That part of it DID feel very accurate. It is like, every time I find a way that it is romanticizing, I also find a way that maybe it ISN’T so… I don’t know. I think I will have to reread it sometime to make a better informed decision. Because really, I was so into the story, that I could be forgetting things!
WELL if you want to see my overly detailed and spoilery review of all of the ways the book was a fail, here’s the link: https://missprint.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/all-the-bright-places-a-review/
Great review! I thought this book was kind of awesome in terms of showing what schizophrenia is and how awful it can be for someone to go through. April’s school project she did to show her classmates what Jonah has to go through was very powerful and I teared up at that part. I just did not like April for a majority of the book though. She was too much of an enabler and I really didn’t like how she treated her best friend. And like you said, it was too insta-lovey. I know that the whole enabler thing is probably realistic. She just bugged me.
Thanks! I DO agree with you about April. In fact, I was going to give it a 3.5, but then I thought about it for a little while, and I realized that while she made super dumb decisions… what would I have done at 15, thinking I was in love? Probably the same. So I had to admit, it is VERY realistic.
Sounds like the perfect book for this event, shame she wasn’t fleshed out as much (but you can also see why) and I mean, I don’t mind missing out some of that if the attention is mainly on the stigma and how people react to mental illness. I mean, okay, she’ll probably annoy me a little with some of the bad decisions she makes, but exactly, she’s young, she doesn’t exactly know what to do, so she’s doing what she thinks is right, and having something like this will help people make the right decisions if you’re in a similar situation. I don’t know if I can forgive the intalove entirely, but probably will feel the same as you. I was a liiiiiiiittle bit worried about this one, not so much now,
Just added this one to my TBR – and also added a list in Goodreads called Mental Health so I won’t lose track of all the books I’m going to be adding because of this event!
looks like a lot of messages in the book