On a Scale of One to Ten By Ceylan Scott

Title: On a Scale of One to Ten

Author: Ceylan Scott

Publisher: Chicken House Ltd

First Published: 3rd May 2018

Blurb:

Tamar is admitted to Lime Grove, a psychiatric hospital for teenagers. 

Lime Grove is home to a number of teenagers with a variety of problems: anorexia, bipolar disorder, behaviour issues. Tamar will come to know them all very well. But there’s one question she can’t… won’t answer: What happened to her friend Iris? As Tamar’s emotional angst becomes more and more clear to her, she’ll have to figure out a path to forgiveness. A shocking, moving, and darkly funny depiction of life in a psychiatric world. (From Goodreads, 9th April 2019).

Review:

This was a novel that I enjoyed but it was very typical of the many mental health books that I have read in the past. Tamara is admitted to a psychiatric hospital due to a suicide attempt and her self harm. Tamara is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, a very underwritten about disorder, and really the reason I was drawn to this book.

This novel focuses on the relationships Tamara creates whilst at Lime Grove. But the relationships aren’t that well developed. But when you are admitted to a psychiatric ward you are placed with individuals and don’t have long to get used to their company. You are in a world where people’s most personal thoughts are shared, so relationships do become quite deep quite quickly, or what appears to be deep. So the setting itself may be part of the issue with the lack of development of relationships and is actually quite accurate of psychiatric hospital relationships for some.

I would say that some of this novel is very on point, whilst other parts aren’t that believable. There was a lack of focus on treatment and looking at ways to change thinking and working on a better set of coping strategies, which I feel is an important aspect to novels like these. However, it is based in a hospital ward and many people do not realise that the main point of an acute psychiatric ward is to get someone stable enough so they can work on their issues outside of hospital. The hospital is to keep an individual or others safe and reach a stage that they can engage in therapy once discharged. So I feel that this was an accurate description but I feel that recovery work should be looked at in novels like these. The ending felt rushed but did focus on the concept of hope, which is possibly the most valuable part of recovery when it comes to mental health issues.

This is an own-voices novel, and therefore the author has personal experience of mental health issues and this may be accurate to how she herself felt. I felt the thoughts and feelings of Tamara really did show a real insight into the mind of an individual diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) setting was a reliable account, although I feel that some of the staff were not at all realistic, whilst others seemed pretty on point. I understand that you are going to get good and bad members of staff but I feel you are more likely to get good, some bad and some okay, and this balance was not made for me personally. But everyone has a different experience and different hospital experiences depending on the ward that an individual is admitted to so this is likely a really good representation of some wards. I think because it contrasted with my experience a bit that is why I found it difficult to relate to completely. Some parts rung true whilst others didn’t, and my own bias has probably resulted in my opinion on this.

There is also a bit of a mystery going on. What happened to Iris? And this is an intriguing plot point for the novel. And one of the reasons I liked this novel. It provides a story to follow rather than the novel being solely focused on mental health symptoms.

Overall I feel this is a book that was mixed for me, but is an account worth reading, and does depict the mind of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder well. It is in some ways very accurate, but as I have said I feel books about mental health difficulties have a responsibility to address recovery and look at things that can help. But the importance of hope, at least, was focused on.

3.5 out of 5

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The Iron Daughter By Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Daughter

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Mira Ink

First Published: January 1st 2010

Blurb:

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan’s own fey powers have been cut off. She’s stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can’t help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.(From Goodreads, 14th November 2013)

Review:

It has been nearly a year since I read “The Iron King” and I have no idea why I waited so long to pick up “The Iron Daughter” but I am so glad that I finally did. I had read some negative reviews saying it was just a love story. But I found that despite the teen romance going on there was a lot of adventure keeping me interested and reading late into the night. In “The Iron King” Meghan is attempting to save her little brother from the the Iron King, and just discovering the world of Faery. In “The Iron Daughter” Meghan is implicated in a much bigger adventure that affects all those that live in the Never Never.

I will not write any more about the actual plot as I do not want to spoil either the first or second books in this series for anyone. However, this novel is great and I would highly recommend it for teenage girls. We have romance, but not too much, yes there is some bits I thought ‘can’t we just get on with the story!?!?!’ but that is me, I prefer the action. Despite this, there is plenty of action to keep you entertain, plenty of mysteries, and pangs of doubt, because we all know Faeries are mischievous!

For a young adult novel I find that both “The Iron King” and “The Iron Daughter” are well thought out and have a great deal of imagination within the pages. Julie Kagawa has created a world I love, with characters that you love, and characters you are simply terrified off. Julie Kagawa has created novels that I think many teenage girls would love and could get reluctant readers to sit down and escape into the narrative.

4 out of 5

Adorkable By Sarra Manning

Title: Adorkable

Author: Sarra Manning

Publisher: Atom

First Published: 24th May 2012

Blurb:

Welcome to the dorkside. It’s going to be a bumpy ride…

Jeane Smith’s a blogger, a dreamer, a dare-to-dreamer, a jumble sale queen, CEO of her own lifestyle brand and has half a million followers on twitter.

Michael Lee’s a star of school, stage and playing field. A golden boy in a Jack Wills hoodie.

They have nothing in common but a pair of cheating exes. So why can’t they stop snogging? (From Goodreads, 21st August 2013)

Review:

Adorkable is a cute book that does exactly what it says. It is about two people from different social scenes who begin to a lustful relationship which neither can explain.

A novel told from both Jeane’s and Michael’s point of view which allows us to get into the minds of both teenagers. Michael is on his way to success, the picture perfect family and perfect grades. Jeane stands out from the crowd but because of her individuality she has managed to become a success. Jeane blogs and tweets, and millions follow her. She talks at conferences. She writes for newspapers, for magazines. She is a success, yet Michael finds it hard to see past her eccentric fashion sense. But when their boyfriend and girlfriend are cheating a connection appears. This is a simple novel that will take you through a relationship that grows despite the characters many differences. We see both characters deal with issues and grow within themselves.

This is a novel that is worth a read when you would something light, quirky and fun. This is a cute book which was excellent when I needed something that didn’t take too much concentrating to follow. One for teenage girls who want a slightly quirky romance.I would say those who enjoyed The Future of Us By Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler will enjoy Adorkable.

3.5 out of 5

Junk By Melvin Burgess

Junk is a novel that got a lot of publicity when it came out and was a novel which my school used to get more reluctant readers to read and also a way to engage those classes which were deemed ‘problem classes’.

I never picked up Junk until my school days were far behind me and now understand why my school used it the way it did.

Junk is a young adult novel which shows the true nature of drug use and life on the streets. It explains, without elaboration, the downward spiral as the characters leave home and delve into a life ruled by heroin.

A fast paced novel which does not pull cotton wool over the eyes of the readers and looks at both the good and the bad of heroin use.

This is a novel which all teens should read – both those at risk or drug use, homelessness, pregnancy and abuse, and those who these issues do not really affect. Both groups can learn a lot. Understanding, warning, options, risks, reality.Also a novel that adults should read, may will be shocked but it may make you understand some of the reasons behind drug use and the factors that lead people to and and the factors which make it near impossible to escape.

Some young readers may be put off at the thickness of the novel, but don’t be. The pace of this book allows you to get through it very quickly. The novel is written from two view points and thus gives a fuller understanding of different experiences with heroin.

I am going to give this novel a 4 out of 5 because it is very interesting, engaging and brings true grittiness to the young adult genre.

A Voice in the Distance By Tabitha Suzuma

  ‘A Voice in the Distance’ is the companion novel for ‘A Note of Madness‘.

Now in his final year at the Royal Collage of Music, Flynn is under more stress than ever before. His bipolar disorder begins to rear its ugly head again and is worse than it was before. Becoming manic very quickly and forcing his friends to phone for an ambulance and police he is saved from being sectioned (detained in hospital) due to his older brother. His ‘perfect’ older brother, who is a doctor, promises to take care of him and make sure he takes his medication.

It is difficult being a young adult at university/collage never mind being a young adult with a mental health problem who also has to cope with the pressures of collage and the competitive nature of the Royal Collage of Music. These pressures continue to erupt for Flynn and his mental health deteriorates again, this time he is hospitalized, putting pressures on all his relationships. Manic to the extent his girlfriend is frightened of his behavior and struggles to cope. His friendships are put on the line.

The problem with bipolar disorder is the Depression that so often follows the Mania. Here we say the destruction in a darker light. We see the struggles of those who love Flynn and the unbearable pain and devastation Bipolar can leave in its wake.

A fantastic novel for any one interested in mental illness. The music side also kept me interested as I once was a trumpet player, though I can imagine some people disliking this side. A young adult novel and a great conclusion to ‘A Note of Madness‘.

This novel looks more at Flynn’s manic side and thus has a different feel to ‘A Note of Madness‘ and therefore is not a rehash of the first novel.

I gave ‘A Note of Madness‘ 5 out of 5. I say ‘A Voice in the Distance’ is even better and again must be a 5 out of 5.

Halfway House

    This is a fantastic novel with a real insight into mental illness. When Angie jumps into the deep end of the swimming pool and doesn’t resurface everyone knows something is seriously wrong.

This novel looks at the family ties which reach breaking point when dealing with Angie’s Bipolar Disorder. It is unique in looking at all family members view points and the path their lives take along with Angie’s deviation off the planned path.

I think this is an example of a well researched book showing a great understanding of mental illness. The story pulls you in right from the beginning and keeps bringing in twists and turns just like life does.

This story is not just for those interested in mental illness, it is for those who like drama and a close look at relationship dynamics.

An interesting novel for both adults and young adults alike.
A five star book and one which I know I will read more than once (which is a rare thing for me!)

Luke and Jon By Robert Williams

Luke’s Mother has just died in a car crash and his Father can no longer afford their house and they are forced to move to a decrepit house on a hillside in a dull town that neither have heard of. Luke has a love for painting and a propensity of accepting those who are usually rejected.

Jon has a photographic memory and lives in the house, with his grandparents, further down the hill side. He is bullied at school but begins a friendship with Luke before school starts by appearing unannounced at the door early each morning.

Both have adult issues to deal with and find friendship and a mutual understanding of one another.

This is a novel that has several ‘big’ issues in it yet to me seemed to lack a real plot to push you along to the end. I was interested in the fact Lukes mother was Bipolar, yet it was only brushed on a few times.

If you want a gentle book to read this is for you. It is well written but does not have a driving force pushing you through and fails to take an in-depth look at the issues presented in the book.