A danger to herself and others – Alyssa Sheinmel Review
Author – Alyssa Sheinmel
Publisher – Sourcebooks Fire
Publish date – 5th February 2019
Genre – YA
POV – First person, present tense
Setting – Mental Health Institution in California
Rating – 4/5
Recommended for – A YA audience that is interested in a mystery story revolving around Mental Illnesses.
“Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape…
Girl, Interrupted meets We Were Liars in this gripping new novel from New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Sheinmel.
Four walls. One window. No way to escape.
Hannah knows there’s been a mistake. She doesn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at that summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn’t a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. Those college applications aren’t going to write themselves. Until then, she’s determined to win over the staff and earn some privileges so she doesn’t lose her mind to boredom.
Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage, and she’s the perfect project to keep Hannah’s focus off all she is missing at home. But Lucy may be the one person who can get Hannah to confront the secrets she’s avoiding—and the dangerous games that landed her in confinement in the first place.”
Buy it – A Danger To Herself And Others
(Spoilers – This book is best experienced without any information. Read my spoiler free quick review)
Seventeen-year-old Hannah is institutionalized after her roommate at a summer program ends up in the hospital. The only person who knows what really happened is Hannah and according to her it’s all just a big misunderstanding. She doesn’t belong institutionalized; besides she’s got better things to do with her senior year approaching and college applications looming.
When Hannah gets a new roommate, Lucy, and she hatches a new plan to get what she wants everything begins to slip out from under her self assured feet.
At first glance Hannah is a spoiled, manipulative, perfectionist. She’s a perfect student, daughter and friend. She is calculating, dishonest, paranoid and clearly in denial. Hannah is an unreliable and unlikable a narrator, as unlikable as I’ve read from a main character. Everything is a game and she knows exactly who to be to make people like her, friends and family included. She is in control.
Painstaking detail and time go into show casing her worst qualities. That is why when her mask finally starts to slip and you find yourself beginning to sympathize with her, it is so much more powerful and shocking. The intensity with which you begin to feel for her and how complex she becomes as a character is so well done.
It does seem a slow build up at first. Hannah is bored, she’s stuck in a small room, her thoughts drag, and she can be very grating. It does make the read difficult. But the wait is worth it.
You then see Hannah as vulnerable, uncertain, hurt, even selfless. Confused about relationships, about who she is, confused about everything. Hannah is not in control, she’s mentally ill and though it is clear she is from the beginning, it is not until halfway through the book you see the depth and brevity of it all. Her own important realization is a sickening gut punch. The portrayal of her symptoms and experience raw and realistic.
At the end you are left with the weight of her sadness and the difficulty of her circumstances. It’s not all resolved or neat. It’s a step into a life long journey for Hannah. One in which she will continue to struggle.
The highlights –
- The slow revelation to the reader of Hannah’s complexity as a character.
- Realistic and personal way in which it’s written and paced making some of the later moments in the book all the more hard hitting.
- A promising but dark and unresolved ending.
I have received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
– 4/5 While not totally original or surprising, A Danger To Herself And Others is a devastating journey to go through with Hannah, and that impact is really what stays with you long after you put down the book.