Sunday, April 30, 2017

Highly Illogical Behavior, by John Corey Whaley

Lisa is on a mission to write an amazing admission essay that will get her into the second-best psychology program in the country (she has pragmatically decided that she needs to shoot for something less than perfection).  The theme of the essay has to be about her personal experience with mental illness, and she know exactly what she will write about: Solomon Reed.

Three years ago, Lisa witnessed Sol having a panic attack that ended up with him in a public fountain.  In the aftermath, Solomon withdrew from school and isolated himself at home, afraid to go outside for fear of having more panic attacks.  With some research, Lisa tracks him down and manages to convince Sol's family to open up to her (although she doesn't tell them why she is suddenly interested in being friends with Sol).

Their contact is tentative at first, but she wins his trust and a real friendship develops between them.  Mostly to reassure her boyfriend that her interest in Sol is platonic, Lisa invites her boyfriend to meet Sol and it turns out that the two boys have a lot of similar interests.  The flourishing of that friendship complicates issues as the boyfriend threatens to expose Lisa's exploitation of Sol.  It also triggers Lisa's insecurity and jealousy as the boys' friendship seems to become romantic.

While the ultimate fallout from Lisa's ill-advised foray into amateur psychotherapy is not much of a surprise, the story is kept fresh by its characters.  Certainly, the three protagonists have a complicated and interesting dynamic going on, but the strong cast of supporting characters also deserves special mention.

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