Sunday, 28 July 2013

What I've Been Reading:'Saint Jude' by Dawn DeAnna Wilson

"No one expects you to make any sense. That gives you the freedom to be creative. It's like for the rest of us the world is a black and white TV show. For you, it's a Disney cartoon."

This is one of those books I've stumbled across when browsing Amazon for cheap / free Kindle titles. The slightly eerie cover image drew me to the book and the blurb pulled me in further so I hit that lovely little 'buy now' button.

Saint Jude's is a way-station for troubled teens. Specialising in adolescent mental illness, the group home takes in upper middle class teenagers like Taylor, whose Mom can no longer handle her Bipolar diagnosis. Taylor's lucky. The only experience she has of Psychiatric facilities is the plush ward on the fourth floor of a private hospital, and now the "family" environment of Saint Jude, governed by Big Daddy, the teens therapist and Big Momma, a sort of housekeeper, come psychiatric nurse.

The teens are all dealing with their own problems: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and yet their lives have become entwined, they've been forced together by the stigma of mental illness and the pain they each feel inside their own fragile minds. Isolated from the "real world" the teens tick along, riding the waves of their mental disorders waiting to turn sixteen so they can leave. 

Until Dalton arrives. A replacement for Big Daddy, Dalton is a breath of fresh air in the stale therapeutic environment and he attempts to turn the teens lives around with shall we say non-traditional techniques and a new approach to therapy. 

Meanwhile, as Taylor begins to grow closer to the charismatic Blaine, she puts her own recovery on the line to become the person she thinks he wants to be. And when he leaves Saint Jude's for good, the fine thread that had been holding her together finally breaks.

This novel encompasses the darkness of a mental illness diagnosis and the brightness of recovery. It's a must-read for anybody going through a similar situation or really for anybody who just likes a bloody good teen protagonist and a plot that deals with strong, heart-wrenching issues without simply skimming the surface.

4/5 - purely because the copy I read could have done with some editing and grammatical tweaks.


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