A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- Author: John Corey Whaley
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dial Books
- Publication date: May 10, 2016
- Number of pages: 256
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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