Review: Chaos Theory

Since Shelbi enrolled at Windward Academy as a senior and won’t be there very long, she hasn’t bothered making friends. What her classmates don’t know about her can’t be used to hurt her–you know, like it did at her last school.

Andy Criddle is not okay. At all.
He’s had far too much to drink.
Again. Which is bad.
And things are about to get worse.

When Shelbi sees Andy at his lowest, she can relate. So she doesn’t resist reaching out. And there’s no doubt their connection has them both seeing stars . . . but the closer they get, the more the past threatens to pull their universes apart.

I was hooked right from the start of this book and finished it within 24 hours. This book is heavy emotionally, and does have some trigger warnings, so it’s not a book for everyone, but it is so, so good!

Both Shelbi and Andy are dealing with different types of mental illness – bipolar disorder and substance abuse/addiction, respectively. A text sent to a wrong number starts an unlikely friendship between the two, and when they actually start hanging out with one another in person, they slowly become more open and vulnerable with each other about their pasts. My heart hurt for both of them from what they’d dealt with in the past, and separately they’re both amazing characters.

Shelbi is a literal genius and often “nerds out” about science and other facts she knows or learns. She’s guarded and doesn’t have any friends her age other than her hilarious and protective cousin, Becky, so opening up to Andy is a big step for her (she even makes him sign a contract, which was adorable). She insists on calling Andy by his given first name, Walter, and makes up her own variations of the name, which was another cute trait about her. It was funny that she would call him Walter, but she’d correct her family if they called him that and tell them to call him Andy. When she does open up about what happened to her at her old school after being diagnosed, my heart hurt so much for her and I completely understood why she didn’t interact with anyone at her new school for senior year.

“But that’s the thing: getting rid of the mental illness stigma means getting rid of the idea that what people experience based on their brain chemistry can make them socially unacceptable. Like we all want people to think we’re so strong and tough and invincible. But…we’re not. We’re human.”

Andy (or Walty-Wal Wal as Shelbi calls him) was a literal teddy bear. He deserved all the hugs and more! He’s dealing with grief, though not in the best way, as well as parental abuse from his mother. It’s not physical abuse, but more like she tries to control every aspect of his life yet also neglects him. His dad was pretty cool, but they still didn’t have a super-close relationship like Andy would’ve wanted. It does get better between the two though, and Andy and his mom even have a heart-to-heart later on in the book. Andy was so good with Shelbi as she slowly opened up to him, and I loved how he geeked out about Shelbi’s mother being an author of urban romance to the point where he even started reading the books!

As for the side characters, I loved Shelbi’s family and their dynamic with one another. They bust on her, but are also fiercely protective when Andy first comes into her life and even as the book goes on. Again, I liked Andy’s dad, but his mom was a total bitch which I guess makes sense since she’s in politics. 

For as much fun as some parts of this book are, there are very serious topics dealt with in this story as well. The major ones are mental illness, depression, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, parental (mental) abuse, self-harm, and suicidal tendencies/thoughts. The author’s honest depiction of all these topics in the story from her own experiences are to be loved and appreciated (and I do, so much). If you are able to handle reading a book that deals with all of that, I completely recommend this one.

The only reason I’m giving this book 4.75 stars instead of five is because I feel like the epilogue (as cute as it was) wasn’t completely needed. At least, for me it wasn’t. I’m sure other readers prefer it to end that way.

Rating: 4.75/5 stars

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