A teen with schizophrenia is getting better—isn’t he?
Miles has a slew of meds that keep him just stable enough to function, if not enough for popularity. The medication keeps his schizophrenia under control, but it can’t do anything about his guilt and grief over lost baby brother Teddy. Teddy vanished (perhaps drowned, perhaps kidnapped) the day Miles’ hallucinations first manifested, and his family is saturated with misery, refusing to speak about Teddy and hiding all photographs of him. Miles is convinced he can fix his family’s dysfunction if only he can find Teddy, and he sets out on a disjointed, confused but passionate quest for his brother’s kidnapper. Meanwhile he negotiates relationships: with his best friend, who is careless with Miles’ safety when pressuring him to use drugs and alcohol; with his best friend’s girlfriend, the only person who actually looks out for Miles; and with his childhood sweetheart, who is both popular and a two-faced back-stabber. Miles’ mental health may not be improving as much as he thinks it is, and his quest culminates in disturbing revelations. Overly choppy prose attempts to represent Miles’ delusional state of mind but mostly serves to distract; still, this is a cleareyed, surprisingly hopeful look at the disorder.
Given the grim reality of medical management of schizophrenia (and the bleakness of depictions of it in teen fiction), the cautious optimism of Miles’ life is most welcome. (Fiction. 14-17)