Solitaire by Alice Oseman
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: July 2014
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆
Plot: In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.
My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.
Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.
I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.
I really don’t.
I originally gave this book 3/5 stars. But after leaving it for a while and really thinking about this book, I’m seriously considering making it higher.
Because just because I didn’t get it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t important.
Tori Spring is a character you can either not relate to at all or relate to completely. You can call yourself a pessimist or one who likes to dwell in the doom and gloom of life but it won’t be the same thing as what Tori Spring experiences. If you don’t understand what’s going on immediately, then you’re about to get a subtle but very important education on mental health, from the perspective of someone with mental health issues.
Now mental illnesses are experienced differently, even if one person has the same illness as another. They are personal and differ depending on the person. Sometimes there’s a reason behind the forming of a mental illness, whether it’s trauma or stress or literally anything. But sometimes, mental illnesses happens for absolutely no reason at all. They’re not there, and suddenly, they are. Whether or not you completely understand mental illness, it’s important to read books like Solitaire, where Tori Spring has a normal, rather average life. But seen through her eyes, it feels isolated, cold, and a rather numbing existence.
Of course, there are many other fantastic characters who, while seem distant (because of the way Tori sees them) are still important and loving people in her life. Michael Holden being one of them. A rather quirky, upbeat character, we don’t see the real Michael until later on because of Tori’s perspective of him, it’s only until they truly see each other do we start to understand his and other characters’ motivations.
While in some aspects this story was lighthearted, it really brought to life the pressures that adolescence have when their mental wellbeing is also going down the drain. It can be hard to understand when dealing with both of them yourself, but I’m glad I read this book and I’m glad it wasn’t portrayed at quirky or cute or any other nonsense that mental illness is ‘trendy’. It’ll stick with you, this story. It really will.