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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book Review: Four Weeks, Five People

Release Date: May 2, 2017
Author: Jennifer Yu
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Length: 384 pages
Source: ARC from Publisher

They're more than their problems

Obsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she's okay.

Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous.

Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality.

Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyone is an idiot.

And Stella just doesn't want to be back for her second summer of wilderness therapy.

As the five teens get to know one another and work to overcome the various disorders that have affected their lives, they find themselves forming bonds they never thought they would, discovering new truths about themselves and actually looking forward to the future.

     

Review:

Protagonists: This story has five first person POVs, which on its own is a serious challenge, but it really works in this story. While there is a central plot of sorts that these characters all participate in they each have their own trials and struggles and add serious depth to this story. It's funny but since this is a standalone novel, for some reason, I expected that the development of these characters would have been more dramatic and that by the end they'd be, well maybe not "cured," but better, but that's not how mental health works, and I appreciated that the author didn't provide an idyllic view of mental health, but, from what I could tell, a very real one. I can't say I necessarily loved all the characters because Mason could be severely insufferable, and Ben could be overly dramatic at times, even though I think I identified with Ben the most. I loved Stella's sardonic and sarcastic personality, though she does soften a bit as the story goes on. Clarissa feels like this sweet and innocent creature you want to protect from the world, but also hope she can find a way to stand on her own to feet. Andrew, who is probably my favorite character, but ironically it's more for his interactions with Stella than who he is as a character, though he is a pretty great character who adds a lot of comic relief to this story.

Romance: I don't know why but I went into this book expecting a romance, but I was unprepared for the romance that actually formed in this story. I don't want to say too much about it because I fear if I say too much it will shatter your experience of this romance. I will say though that I really respect how the author handled this romance. It's tricky to write a realistic story where people dealing with mental health issues are attracted to each other, but they still have to deal and work to overcome their own issues. I really liked the way the romance unfolded and how it added another element to the overall story and where these characters end up by the end of the book.

World Building: For those who do not know, I suffer from clinical depression as well as anxiety, so I feel I can only really comment on how well those aspects are portrayed in this story. I feel as though those aspects were portrayed in an extremely realistic way. There was a moment when a character has a complete breakdown and I could very easily relate to how he was feeling and it kind of scared me just how connected I felt to that character in that moment, even though the rational side of my brain was telling me he was being completely unreasonable. As for the other mental health issues addressed in this story, while I don't have first-hand experience with them, from what I understand about them the author did a great job of showing off these characters' struggles.

Predictability: Since the author takes such a realistic stance with this story it's not as if everything fits in that YA fiction formula, and instead there are twists that happen with no warning at all, or things that don't happen because this isn't some cheesy YA contemporary where everyone pairs off or discovers some hidden truth about the world. Instead, there is a bit of foreshadowing if you know where t look for it, and there are secrets that these characters keep that over the course of the story and as we get to know them, slowly come to light.

Ending: I feel a bit like this book tricked me. When I first received it I wrote it off as one of those deep, heavy, books that focus on serious topics and while they may be amazing, they really drain a lot out of you. However, I decided to read the first chapter and found there was a levity to the story and some humor to break up moments that could be very draining, and that pattern continued for quite a while. However, as the story got closer and closer to ending, those fluffy moments or those moments filled with comedy spread out more and things got pretty heavy. The ending to this book deals with some pretty intense stuff and while there are still moments of serenity or humor to break it up, I did feel pretty drained by the end of the book. It is a standalone story so I expected a wrapped up, but it's also a realistic story and while I'm not completely dying for another installment, there are still some things left up in the air.

Rating:


This book drained me good. I loved it so much and while I still have a few questions about some of the characters, I'm fine with this being a standalone, but I can't wait to see what this author will write next.

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