Highly Illogical Behavior - John Corey Whaley
Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there?
Solomon is the answer.
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.
What I love about this book is... well... everything! I fully admit that I'm a total John Corey Whaley fanboy, but that being said, I am also attempting to be a professional where this review is concerned. Solomon is not a stereotypical teen with a mental illness, but rather a fully fleshed out and complex character who grows and develops throughout the novel. Although his agoraphobia is central to the story, it does not fully overwhelm the plot as Whaley weaves Lisa's narrative voice into the spaces between Solomon's.
Although some may find Solomon's parents to be strangely uncaring about his decision to stay home all the time, I fully respected their decision to let him work out his issues in the best way he could. So much of society as we know it is based on norms that are really problematic. To tell a young person that they must go outside and confront the ridiculous expectations of high school life ("Oh, yeah, you just have to deal with the bullying and the expectations, and the stress, and the loneliness, and....") is absurd. What I love in this novel is that Whaley allows Solomon to find what works, and while he still wants to go outside at times, his solution actually works for the most part (no spoilers!)
I really enjoyed the complex nature of Solomon and Lisa's relationship, especially after Clark was introduced to the situation and certain doubts started creeping into Lisa's mind. Solomon's parents are fully realized individuals within the story, as are Lisa, Clark, and Solomon. The narrative flows swiftly, and though some may feel the pop culture references won't stand "the test of time," they work incredibly well within the overall structure of the story. I love the references to Star Trek, Community, and board games.
Characterization is strong, the setting is well constructed, and the overall plot is filled with urgency and sophistication. This is a novel that will make you laugh, probably cry (it happened to me!), and truly appreciate Solomon's situation, in terms of his mental illness and his relationships with Lisa and Clark. I Highly Recommend this latest book from the incredibly talented John Corey Whaley!!
(Note: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy - Out May 10, 2016)