Flynn is a promising young pianist studying at London’s Royal College of Music. Though he is presented with many fantastic opportunities that he thinks should make him happy, on the inside he is falling apart.
This was a difficult book. I don’t mean difficult as in hard to read technically; Suzuma’s writing is very accessible, which is good, as she deliberately chooses “taboo” subjects to write about. It was difficult for me because I identified so much with the book’s principal character, Flynn, an 18 year old musician. Like Flynn, I have been a musician since a very young age. And, like Flynn, music was part of what pushed me over the edge two years ago when I suffered from severe depression. At times, I felt like Suzuma was writing about me; I know what it feels like to feel so awful all the time that you start wondering what’s wrong with you.
I think Suzuma gave a good overview of the issues faced by the mentally ill. As I just mentioned, I could identify with Flynn’s struggle to accept that he was ill needed help. His struggle to realize that his bipolar disorder was an illness, rather than some moral flaw or lack of strength within himself, will speak to many other teens who have suffered from a mental disorder.
I appreciated that she touched on the negative stigma attached to mental illness, however briefly. I have found this to be very true when I have made the mistake of sharing my experiences with people who do not understand. I think this is a large part of the reason many people, teens in particular, don’t seek out help even when they know something is wrong. Everyone is afraid of being negatively judged to some extent, and in today’s society, mental illness is a very sensitive issue.
I am glad I am seeing a few more books for young adults regarding the mental illness issue. I know reading about people who had the same feelings as me would have really helped me. Everything I’ve learned about life I’ve learned from a book, so not seeing characters with depression, anxiety, etc., made me feel alien. Thank you, Ms. Suzuma, for writing this book.
Rachmaninov’s Third (naturally)
Other YA Books about mental illness:
It’s Kind of a Funny Story–Ned Vizzini
Hold Still–Nina LaCour
Goth Girl Rising–Barry Lyga
Cut–Patricia McCormick (I’ve met her!!)