In an engaging if predictable cautionary tale, 14-year-old Cameron stops taking medications for his schizophreniform disorder and finds that his choice brings unwanted consequences.
Off his medication, Cameron hears voices. He likes having some of the voices in his head, such as the even-keeled, informative Professor and the alluring Girl, a newer arrival. (They are helpfully represented, as are the other voices, by recognizably different typefaces.) His desire to hold onto the voices makes his quitting his meds believable and compelling. The central ambiguity—the way some aspects of Cameron’s unmedicated state feel desirable and important, even while others are confusing or frightening—is maintained almost to the end. A new, intimidating voice Cameron calls the Other Guy urges Cameron to take risks and be cruel, and readers feel the exhilaration Cameron experiences at obeying the Other Guy’s commands. Cameron’s parents and sister are realistically drawn, with believably flawed reactions to Cameron’s condition, as is his friend Nina, a classmate with depression from the Emotionally Disturbed Program. A pat ending, however, undermines the question of whether Cameron ought to be allowed to go without medication, as does an afterword in which the author, a clinical psychologist, speculates that “one day, Cameron might very well be free of the disease forever, which is his fondest hope.”
Complex questions are carefully presented but answered too simply in this nevertheless intriguing exploration. (Fiction. 12-16)