Friday, December 15, 2017

Words on Bathroom Walls, by Julia Walton

Adam suffers from schizophrenia, seeing and hearing people who are not there.  He knows that there is no cure and it is a condition that he will always have to live with, but a new drug trial gives him hope for a means of coping with his hallucinations.  And, if he can cope, he might be able to live a normal life.  That’s important to him for fitting in at school, and also for winning over his new girlfriend Maya.  But what if Maya learns of his condition?

Tracing the difficulties of managing adolescence and a serious mental illness at the same time, Walton touches on a variety of different facets including school, family, and long-term survival skills.  Still, the story never really sought great depth.  I get that it is difficult for writers to express the ways that adolescent boys really do have feelings, but it gets frustrating to have Adam toggle between the clich√© horny/thoughtless/violent impulse that I have complained about here before, at the neglect of the hurt and frustration of living with an illness.  Maya is an interesting character but told through his eyes, we don’t really get much chance to get to know her.  And we don’t really learn all that much about mental illness either.

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