4 of 5 stars
I felt like this book was so close to being a book I really loved. I enjoyed the story and the characters and that they didn’t necessarily do what I expected them to. I loved the anxiety rep; as someone currently struggling with anxiety in a new and intense way, it felt really good to see my worries and experiences on the page (which is why I included my favorite new coping mechanism, a Wonder Woman fidget cube, in the picture!).
Even though all those things were great, there were some things that really pulled me out of the book by the end. I was surprised that Ava is only officially diagnosed with anxiety. Going into this, I knew John Green was writing from his personal experiences with OCD, and from the perspective of someone without OCD it seemed like that may be a thing that Ava has. I wish that had been something discussed more. Just like with queer representation, it’s sometimes important to actually use the words for specific identities on the page.
I also expected it to be more about successfully living with mental illness and learning to cope. This wasn’t really that story, but the story before it in which everything gets progressively worse until something huge happens and you know this is when recovery will hopefully start. Though, as I said above, it was nice seeing someone else living with anxiety, it would have also been really nice to see a character who was able to live happily while also having anxiety, or learning better ways to live. This story was important too; I just want more stories about recovering or successfully coping.
And finally, as with all John Green books I’ve read so far (not many, to be fair), I didn’t like the ending. I thought it was confusing and unnecessary. It was the only part of the book I truly disliked and the reason I probably won’t reread it.
Even if it wasn’t my favorite, I will certainly be recommending this book at my library. It has an important and unique depiction of anxiety in a teen. I think readers who enjoy more literary contemporary YAs would like this book.