Title: Highly Illogical Behaviour
Author: John Corey Whaley
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Release Date: 3rd June 2016
Description from Goodreads:
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.
At turns hilarious and heartwarming, Highly Illogical Behavior showcases the different ways in which we hide ourselves from the world–and the ways in which love, tragedy, and the need for connection may be the only things to bring us back into the light.
This book is told via dual perspectives with the narrative alternating between Solomon and Lisa. Solomon is a teen-aged boy who suffers from severe anxiety and panic attacks which have caused him to not leave his house in the past three years. Lisa is an overachiever who is desperate to leave her life behind and attend a prestigious college and study psychiatry. Her goal is to basically ‘cure’ Solomon and use the experience to get a scholarship.
This book is well worth a read, it’s a tale of friendship and self discovery. All the characters are flawed but well-developed and felt fully three-dimensional. Throughout the book you learn more about them and come to understand their motivations as each character grows.
There are several things about this book that made it feel different to other YA contemporary books I’ve read in the past. Firstly parents, in a lot of YA books parents are typically absent or lacking in one way or another. Solomon has wonderful, supportive parents and has a great relationship with them. It’s a refreshing change. Also, he has an awesome Grandmother whom Solomon also has a good relationship with. Secondly, while characters romantic feelings are explored, the book is more focused on the friendships. Thirdly, this book is the first I’ve read where a character deals with anxiety and panic attacks and I was blown away by how John Corey Whaley wrote these.
I’ve been struggling with anxiety for a couple of years, it’s been getting progressively worse despite my attempts to overcome it. I’m not very good at talking about it, but it did give me a very personal connection to this book. The way the anxiety and panic attacks were described in this book felt incredibly real to me. Some passages put into words exactly what I have experienced but have never managed to describe.
Despite the potentially dark topics covered, this book managed to make me laugh, there is great, funny dialogue and lovely character interactions throughout. There are some truly heartwarming scenes. This book is also full of fun nerdy references which help ground the book in our world.
I picked this up on a whim when a saw it was cheap on the Kindle store, I was looking for something different to read. I haven’t reached for a young adult contemporary book in a couple of years, but I believe I read this book exactly when I needed to. I would highly recommend this to all readers. It has definitely left its mark on me as a reader.
I gave this book 5 out of 5 Stars.