Sunday, August 1, 2010

Get Well Soon

Get Well Soon
written by Julie Halpern

You all know how much I adore books that address teenagers dealing with mental illness, so it's no surprise that this book struck such a chord with me. It greatly helped that it was also written in epistolary form, and if there's any form of book I love most, it's by far epistolary. I love letters, I love writing letters, I love getting letters (who doesn't?), and I love the small glimpse I get of another person's life by reading letters, even if they happen to be fictional. I had read this book and Ned Vizzini's wonderful It's Kind of a Funny Story around the same time, and they are the only two YA novels I've read that do take place in a psychiatric hospital ward. Vizzini's novel appealed to me more, but I was really glad I got the chance to read Halpern's as well. She brings up some really great points throughout the novel, such as the idea of eliminating stereotypes. Her character, Anna, finds herself in a psychiatric hospital ward, where she has to force herself to step back and stop making snap stereotypical judgements, since she's hit rock bottom and has no point in disliking the people who are sharing the space. Anna gets to know people of all walks of life and all kinds of personal struggles, and along the way, finds out a lot about herself. It's ironic--you'd think a novel set in such a depressing setting about depressed people would, in fact, be depressing, but it's really not! Halpern manages to show the humor in a really bad situation, and you'll find yourself laughing throughout the book. The ending was a little strange, but it does fit with what I've heard, that going home and readjusting to "regular life" after a hospitalization is the hardest part. The writing in this book could have used some work and still carried the same authenticity, but as a debut novel, Julie Halpern really proves herself to be in touch with the way teenagers function and tackles a very difficult and critical topic that I always say needs to be depicted in YA fiction much more than it is.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book from...:Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

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