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DEFINITIONS OF INDEFINABLE THINGS by Whitney Taylor

DEFINITIONS OF INDEFINABLE THINGS

by Whitney Taylor

Age Range: 12 - 16

Pub Date: April 4th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-544-80504-0
Publisher: HMH Books

Two depressed teens navigate their disorders and their love life.

Seventeen-year-old Reggie Mason has withdrawn from her school and family, spending her days depressed, alone, and mad at the world. While picking up a prescription at CVS, Reggie meets fellow white teen Snake, and the pair strikes up an unlikely courtship. Unfortunately, Snake’s ex-girlfriend happens to be Reggie’s former childhood friend Carla, also white. Carla also happens to be seven months pregnant with Snake’s baby. Told from Reggie’s first-person perspective, the novel explores the effects depression can have on a person in even the most bizarre of circumstances. The author handles the mental illness angle well, confronting it squarely without turning her novel into an overblown, weepy TV movie. The author also wisely positions Reggie and Carla as reconnecting friends as opposed to girls fighting over a boy, providing a refreshing dramatic avenue. Less exciting is Snake, who is as toxic to the narrative as he is to Reggie and Carla. The tattooed, self-absorbed, wishy-washy aspiring artist leans hard on his mental illness and often brings those around him down as well. These character defects work thematically, but it is a sincere drag whenever Snake enters the picture. Reggie’s relationship with her parents is much more interesting; a late reveal about her past feels clunky in the moment but reshapes enough in hindsight to be worth it.

A compelling exploration of mental illness. (Fiction. 12-16)