Highly Illogical Behavior

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
Highly Illogical Behavior Book Poster Image
Sweet, funny tale of teen helping boy beat fear of outside.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Information on agoraphobia, anxiety, and panic disorders. Story shows what it's like to live with these types of mental illnesses. Brief discussion of Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Positive Messages

Some of the positive messages are couched in terms of what not to do. For example, Lisa makes Solomon a psychological study without telling him, but she learns positive lessons on why that's a terrible idea. Other messages include: Don't let illness or problems define you. Embrace life and what it has to offer. Open up to people and trust them; you might get hurt, but you might find some comfort and learn a lot. Be honest with your friends and family. Be patient and loving with people in your life who are having a hard time.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Solomon's parents are caring and patient with him, and they don't let their worry for his future cloud their dealings with him. Lots of mutual respect in their parent-child relationship. Even though Solomon's anxiety is crippling, he tries to challenge himself to get past it. He is a nice, smart, funny teen. Grandma is funny, hardworking, honest, and clearly full of love for her family. Clark is not a stereotypical jock character; he's easygoing, nonjudgmental, honest, and respectful. Lisa's friend Janis is a little snippy and spreads gossip at one point, but she's an upfront, honest friend who calls Lisa out on her behavior and is there when Lisa needs her. Lisa's a good person who gets caught up in her own ambition and learns a lesson.

Violence

An adult says a mentally ill kid "needs a beating" to get over his issues.

Sex

One teen couple kisses a few times. A girl wants to have sex, but her boyfriend doesn't; this problem is discussed a couple of times. Characters experience sexual tension but nothing graphic.

Language

Swearing is infrequent and includes "s--t" and its variations, "f--k" and its variations, "God," "ass," "hell," "damn," "piss," "Jesus," "bitch," "a--hole," and "d--k."

Consumerism

Most media and products are used for scene setting or character development. For example, Star Trek: The Next Generation figures into the plot and dialogue. Other brands and titles mentioned include Target, Netflix, Xbox, Walmart, Wikipedia, Vons, Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales, Google, Doritos, Skype, the game Munchkin, In-N-Out, Saturday Night Live, Copycat, Adventure Time, Community, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and Lost.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

None of the characters drink, smoke, or use drugs. Clark refers to high school teammates drinking beer. Solomon mentions once considering trying marijuana for his anxiety.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (Noggin') is the story of a teen boy with agoraphobia (fear of open or public places), anxiety, and panic disorder who hasn't left the house in three years. Lisa, a teen girl who witnessed the meltdown that preceded his decision to never leave home, decides to seek him out, but she has an ulterior motive. She wants to cure him and use the experience in a scholarship application essay. When she enlists the help of her boyfriend, things get a little more complicated. What follows is a story of friendship, duplicity, and coming of age. The book is filled with positive messages and characters, as Solomon has a great support network in his family. Some teens kiss. There's no violence. Characters swear infrequently (including "s--t," "f--k," "a--hole," "bitch"). No drinking, drugs, or smoking are shown. There's a positive portrayal of a boy coming out as gay to his friends and family.

User Reviews

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Teen, 15 years old Written byHRM1104 July 16, 2018
Kid, 12 years old January 20, 2018

Great book

Great book about love and friendship. It explores the perspective of different characters following a storyline of a girl that chooses to study a boy for an ass... Continue reading

What's the story?

Solomon Reed's agoraphobia seems like a problem to everyone but Solomon. Never leaving the house has solved all his problems: No more anxiety attacks, no more figuring out how to coexist with the population at large. His family is supportive and loving to him, even though they're wracked with worry as to what kind of future he can possibly have. Enter Lisa Praytor, a smart, high-achieving high school junior who's determined to get into a good psychology program. To earn a scholarship to her top-choice program, she needs to write an essay about her experience with mental illness. She remembers Solomon from middle school -- he had a very public meltdown before disappearing from public -- and decides she can cure him and get a killer essay in the process. She enlists her boyfriend, Clark, in her scheme, and an unlikely friendship blossoms among the teens. They all learn a lot about themselves and what matters most in life.

Is it any good?

Funny, smart, and bittersweet, this coming-of-age story of an agoraphobic and the girl determined to cure him will keep you turning the pages until the very end. Author John Corey Whaley portrays teens and their interactions realistically and with compassion. Solomon is a quirky character who charms the reader from the outset. His crippling anxiety and agoraphobia aren't played for laughs, but rather we get to see that teens with mental illness aren't defined by their issues.

Though most readers will cringe when Lisa decides to "cure" him, all for the sake of an excellent college scholarship essay, her journey turns out to be more compelling that it might seem at first. It boils down to a "Who is saving whom?" situation between Solomon and Lisa. Lisa's boyfriend, Clark, defies typical YA jock stereotypes and is a sweet, engaging character who adds a lot of heart to the story. Even though the author telegraphs many of the plot twists way in advance, this still makes for a sweet and entertaining read.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mental illness. Why do you think it's a common subject in YA novels? What do you think of the way different mental illnesses are presented in books and movies? Does it match or add to your knowledge of kids with these issues?

  • Are there particular books, movies, or TV shows that really speak to you? How have they helped you understand things about life or brought you comfort?

  • The pressure to get into a good college can be all-consuming and cause people to behave in ways they might not normally. What are some good ways to keep your priorities in check while still working hard for what you want?

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