My rating in stars: 4,5 stars
My rating in words: Loved it!
What it’s about:
Sixteen year old Solomon has agoraphobia. He hasn’t left his house in three years, which is fine by him. At home, he is the master of his own kingdom–even if his kingdom doesn’t extend outside of the house.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to go to a top tier psychiatry program. She’ll do anything to get in.
When Lisa finds out about Solomon’s solitary existence, she comes up with a plan sure to net her a scholarship: befriend Solomon. Treat his condition. And write a paper on her findings. To earn Solomon’s trust, Lisa begins letting him into her life, introducing him to her boyfriend Clark, and telling him her secrets. Soon, Solomon begins to open up and expand his universe. But all three teens have grown uncomfortably close, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse as well.
My thoughts (Spoiler-free):
“He was afraid of the world, afraid it would find a way to swallow him up. But, maybe everyone was sometimes. Maybe some people can just turn it off when they need to.”
This was a very hyped book, so I was a little nervous going into this. But I shouldn’t have been, because I started reading, got sucked in to the story, read everything in one sitting and fell in love. This book was amazing and worth every bit of hype and love it is getting. Why?
It has a realistic representation on mental illness. I don’t have agoraphobia so of course I’m not a perfect judge, but I do have some experience with anxiety and everything Solomon goes through in the book just felt so accurate and realistic. It felt like a raw and honest portrayal of mental illness, anxiety, how it can affect people and how it is never the same for everybody. Though the premise of the story is about Lisa trying to ‘fix’ Solomon, our 16-year old agoraphobe, it never goes down the clichéd and unrealistic path. If Solomon makes any progress, it’s not because anyone is fixing him. The support helps of course, but it’s not just that easy and I love that this book didn’t shy away from that. It showed so many aspects of the illness, from the guilt Solomon felt about what his condition meant for the people around him to the fact that he is just as scared of getting better than he is of staying ill.
Romance does not play a big part. What’s this? Lindsey loves a book without any romance in it? Well, there is a bit, but it’s seriously not the main focus of the story. And that’s a good thing, because this could have easily fallen down the unrealistic ‘love conquers all’ trap and it didn’t. I felt that this made the entire story and the characters so much more realistic.
Solomon is an amazing main character. He may be a 16-year old gay agoraphobe, but as it is mentioned in the story, that is only a small part of his whole amazing personality. He’s funny, witty, intelligent, handsome and a big adorkable geek. He’s so likeable that it’s easy to see why the other characters become his friends so easily. His POV was definitely my favorite.
Lisa is… less likeable, but still so incredibly real. Sure, she’s rather self-centered, overly ambitious and just kind of a jerk. But it was nice seeing her grow through her growing friendship with Solomon. Her boyfriend Clark, was also such a real character. He’s a super nice and geeky character who ends up becoming Sol’s BFF rather quickly thanks to their shared love of Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. He could have been the stereotypical jock character, but there were so many layers to his character that made him into a well-rounded and super likeable character.
There is a huge focus on friendships, which is always a plus in my book. This is a very character-driven story and other than the character development itself, it was lovely seeing the relationships develop as well. Watching the friendship between Lisa and Solomon, and later Clark and Solomon, develop was a thing of beauty. Like with anything in the book, the friendships felt real. Flawed but still so powerful.
Families are present and playing an important role. Solomon has some great parents who are present, supportive, witty and funny. And he has an amazing, kick-ass grandma who is always up for the wise advice and the sassy jokes.
So how to describe this book? Above all it is realistic, funny, witty and heart-warming. I am gladly joining in with the readers already loving and praising this book and I couldn’t have asked for a better book to start off my 2017 reading year!
“Take away the things that make you panic and you won’t panic. And then he spent three years wondering why everyone found that so hard to understand. All he was doing was living instead of dying. Some people get cancer. Some people get crazy. Nobody tries to take chemo away.”
“Jealous of the crazy gay kid. That doesn’t sound right.”
“Hey, Sol,” she said, her tone getting serious for a second.
“Those are two things about you out of a million. Don’t box yourself in.”
”The world is big and scary and unforgiving. But we can survive out here.”
“Sometimes it doesn’t matter where you are at all. It only matters who’s with you.”
“We’re just floating in space trying to figure out what it means to be human.”
“Of course Clark can come over without you.”
“I know, but I had to make sure. What if you secretly hate him and you’ve just been hanging out with him for me or something?”
“Is that the impression you get?”
“Yesterday, you guys spent two hours writing a theme song for a board game. I think you’re probably the best friend he’s ever had.”