Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: May 2016
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Plot: Soloman lives a life indoors. After a traumatic experience that includes a water fountain, a panic attack, and the entire student body, Soloman’s anxiety has manifested in agoraphobia – the fear of the outdoors. He hasn’t left the house in three years.
Lisa Praytor wants to be the best. She wants to study psychology at the (second) best school in the state, and all she has to do is write a paper on her experience with a mental illness. She remembers the boy in the fountain three years ago, and sets off to befriend Soloman in order to ‘fix’ him.
Along with Lisa’s boyfriend, Clark, the three form a strong bond. But secrets and betrayal soon come to the surface and threaten their friendship to the point of no return.
Anxiety has recently become a widely talked about issue amongst teens and young adults. And you know what, it’s great. It happens, it exists, and therefore it should be talked about.
While anxiety has become more of a trending topic on social media and in classrooms, it’s still widely misunderstood. Anxiety is a mental illness that can manifest itself into many different things, and, in main character Soloman’s case, it’s agoraphobia or the fear of wide open spaces. Soloman doesn’t leave the house, and while parents may turn around and say “he’s just being a lazy teenager!”, Soloman’s parents are actually an example of fantastic parenting. They don’t push him, but they give him as many opportunities as possible to seek and receive help.
Lisa Praytor was someone who I did not necessarily understand but did not dislike. I thought I would – using someone’s mental illness as a means to get into uni? Actual awful person alert, but when she realised that who she was actually dealing with was not a mentally ill person, but a person with a mental illness, she came across as a well-developed (and still developing) character.
And then there’s Clark Robbins, who I do not think is an actual human person in real life. There are some kind of good-natured humans who, in my experience, just don’t exist. Clark is friendly, caring, open-minded, understanding (incredibly so), charismatic (and not in a dictator way) and treats Soloman like the cinnamon roll he is, but not even in a patronizing way. Like I said, people like this don’t exist. Too good. Too pure.
This novel is very character driven. Split into two narratives (Soloman and Lisa), we get a real sense of how difficult living with anxiety actually is, how crippling it can become just from answering the phone or even thinking about going outside. Having a mental illness comes with it’s stigmas, of course, and it’s great that Highly Illogical Behavior tries to dispel them. While slowly becoming more aware of anxiety and anxiety related mental illnesses, I really felt like a learnt so much just from a 250 page book.
But that’s the thing, the story is way too small. While I reckon it doesn’t skip things out or miss points, I was still surprised when it showed up in the most and was only around 250 pages. But, sometimes it happens.