A young woman with bipolar disorder struggles with the ever present specter of crushing depression in this contemporary fiction debut.
Incisive, smart, white, 17-year-old Catherine hides whatever spare prescription meds she can get her hands on—no easy feat since her exhausted but dedicated mother carries the whole of their medicine chest around with her at all times after a previous suicide attempt landed Catherine in the hospital. Consumed by guilt over the stress she causes her mom and by hopelessness about the permanence of her disorder, Catherine plans to kill herself once her emotional "zero" returns. However, as she begins a new drug regimen and a therapy group, she finds a kindred spirit in Kristal, a black girl who attends for a binge-eating disorder, and a new romance with Michael, a kind, intelligent, white boy at her school, and hope slowly returns. Catherine's acerbically witty narrative voice is razor sharp and often raw, and the confessional tone of her present-tense narration makes clear how overwhelming her pain is. Secondary characters—particularly her mother, Kristal, and Michael—are also painted with a detailed brush. Michael's loving Italian-American family has its own problems, and Kristal feels immense pressure from her highly successful but also caring parents.
An honest, informative, and ultimately optimistic novel about living with mental illness. (Fiction. 14-18)