ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN by Ceylan Scott
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 12 - 18
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A suicide attempt lands a teen in a British psychiatric hospital in this #ownvoices debut.

“ ‘Jump, Iris,’ she said. ‘I’ll follow you.’ ” Iris jumped. Tamar didn’t, and she’s left grappling with the belief that she’s a murderer. They were both 15 on the summer day Iris drowned in the weir. Over a year later Tamar’s attempt at suicide lands her in Lime Grove with other mentally ill teens. She narrates her stay there, the events of the past, her relationships with her fellow patients, and her gradual stumbling recovery in a staggeringly honest, astonishingly lucid first-person narrative. Scott, a young woman diagnosed with borderline personality disorder when she herself was committed to a psychiatric hospital at age 16, brings readers so far into Tamar’s head that they truly understand what it’s like to be her, participating in both her self-deception and her climb toward truth and sanity. And sanity doesn’t always look like what you’d expect—when Tamar drinks herself senseless at a party the first time she’s given leave, her psychiatrist congratulates her for not doing worse. There are no stereotypes here. Even minor characters are complex and rich—though they are all white—and the prose is elegant and direct. “Rock bottom is always far lower and far darker than you think.”

An important book and a very impressive, ultimately hopeful, treatment of mental illness. (author’s note) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 14th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-338-32376-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2019


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