Filled with heart and hope, Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley is an exquisite story about mental health, love and friendship, and the things that keep us connected.
Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there?
Solomon is the answer.
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Whaley’s work, and part of what I love so much about them is this: each one is wholly unique, and yet they are all really about the same thing. They’re all about people, and what connects us.
With Highly Illogical Behavior, Whaley takes a deep (and, at times, very personal) look at mental health, what it really looks like to those who suffer from it, and how it affects the people in an individual’s life. In this case, we have Solomon — who in many ways is a typical teen. He wants to find love and friendship; he has hopes and dreams; he nerds out about the things that make him feel passionate; and he wants more out of life. But his hopes and desires are often stifled by his agoraphobia. Whaley draws on his own personal experiences to show how painful and frustrating this is for Solomon: to know that his feelings are irrational, to want to overcome them, and still be utterly crippled by them.
It’s heartbreaking; and yet, Whaley also paints a picture of hope. Because — spoiler alert — Lisa’s plan to “fix” Solomon was always doomed for failure, but when she and Clark start spending more time with Sol, all three of them learn that life doesn’t have to be so black and white. Whaley shows that mental illness doesn’t have to be the end of the story; in many ways, it’s just the beginning. It’s hard and filled with challenges; but as with anything in life, if it’s worth having, it’s worth fighting for. And that’s something Solomon and Lisa and Clark all learn, in aces and spades.
It doesn’t hurt that Highly Illogical Behavior is also just a really, really great, funny, moving book. Whaley’s writing has always been exceptional, and his nuanced storytelling style really shines as he brings these characters’ stories to life in genuinely touching clarity.
I loved this book with all my heart; and it might be my favorite of Whaley’s books to date. (I mean, don’t quote me on that. They’re all pretty great.) Highly Illogical Behavior is a classic coming-of-age story for today’s teens; rich with humor, heart, and hope, it will leave a lasting mark on readers for years to come. Look for it in stores May 10th.
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