High schooler Natalie Cordova has just been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. Her mom insists she keep it secret.
Putting up a front and hiding her mental illness from her classmates is going to be the hardest thing Natalie’s ever done. It’s her senior year, and she’s just been selected to present her artwork at a prestigious show. With the stress of performing on her shoulders, it doesn’t help when Natalie notices a boy who makes her heart leap.
And then there’s fellow student Ella, who confronts Natalie about her summer car “accident” and pressures her into caring for the world’s ugliest dog. Now Natalie finds herself juggling all kinds of feels and responsibilities. Surely her newly prescribed medication is to blame for the funk she finds herself in. But as Natalie’s plan to self-treat unravels, so does the perfect façade she’s been painting for everyone else.
It’s official, I’m a stan for bipolar characters. They need more representation in fiction, and it seems like they’re slowly trickling in. Just not fast enough for my liking (though with the amount of books on my TBR list, I shouldn’t be rushing the authors/publishers for even more content).
Natalie was just an overall great character. I can’t really say I relate to her, as I’m not bipolar, but I felt for her and her struggle with it and how she was trying to keep it a secret from everyone outside of her family. She hated her own brain for not being “normal” and that is actually something I can relate to in a different way. But this is about Natalie. She was desperate to not be bipolar, especially after her two best friends found out, and went off her meds to try to beat it on her own. It just sucks for real people, like Natalie, who have bipolar disorder and let the fear of how others treat them keep themselves from properly taking care of themselves.
I hated how her mother treated the entire thing – like if anyone found out, they’d be exiled from society. She was wrong on so many levels, and instead of trying to really help and support Natalie, she just made Natalie feel worse. To be fair, she does realize her wrong ways later on, which is always a good thing, but it still affected Nat for 95% of the book. I suppose her being the way she was for most of the book was an example of how some people can learn and change their actions toward those with mental illnesses once they truly see the wrongness of their actions.
Just as I couldn’t stand Natalie’s mother’s way of treating her after she was diagnosed, when Natalie’s best friends, Cecily and Brynn, found out, they were completely ignorant about her mental illness and I hated them from that point on. They started walking on eggshells with Natalie and stopped inviting her or telling her things in cast they ‘triggered’ her, instead of following Natalie’s wishes of treating her the same way they’d always had before. The worst part about these two, aside from Brynn being a blabbermouth later, was that neither Cecily or Brynn tried to learn more about Bipolar Disorder itself to be able to understand Natalie better.
On the other end of things, Ella and Ty were fantastic characters. Ella, of course, was revealed to be autistic and had ADHD, which did explain a lot of her social actions. But I loved her. She had no qualms about Natalie being bipolar and was supportive in her own quirky way. Ty was a fun character and had his own parental struggles, as he wanted to study art, but his parents thought of it as only a hobby. The art was something for Ty and Natalie to bond over, which I adored, and when Ty found out about her being bipolar, he was completely chill about it (as he knew someone else who was bipolar, so that helped).
Lastly, as always, I love artistic characters like Natalie and Ty. They’re usually fun characters, even with their personal struggles. The best part about them is their passion for their craft, whether it’s art, writing, music, or whatever artistic thing they do. I love reading about artists, especially in YA books.
I loved this book entirely and cannot find a bad thing to say about it (other than the jerky characters). There is a bit of a twist in the story, which is weird because of how wild the situation is, but fits in the story and makes it even more interesting. I plan on buying it after Christmas, and I highly recommend this book, especially if you like reading books that prioritize mental health in characters.
Rating: 5/5 stars