Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
Solomon hasn’t left the house in three years. Not since he had a panic attack at school and ended up in his boxers in the school fountain. Now at age 16, Solomon has decided that he really doesn’t need the outside world at all, not missing his old friends and doing his school work online. Lisa is ambitious, knowing that she wants to leave her home town far behind. Her dream is to become a psychiatrist and Solomon is her key to the essay that will earn her a full-ride scholarship to the second-best school in the country. Lisa steadily befriends Solomon, not sharing with him that she is using him as a test subject. As true friendship starts to grow with not just Lisa but also her boyfriend Clark, Solomon starts to improve. But can a friendship built on one lie survive the truth?
Pritz-Award winner Whaley has once again created characters that are beautifully crafted and intensely human. While it is easy to sympathize with Solomon, Lisa is one of the more conflicted and complex characters I’ve read in a long time. She is exceedingly easy to dislike, since readers understand her selfish motivations very clearly. Yet as the novel progresses, readers will slowly realize that they understand Lisa and may even like her. Her character brings up difficult questions about motivations and what it means to help someone else.
Solomon too is an impressive character. Whaley allows us to see Solomon beyond his agoraphobia and to see into the world of a boy who has chosen to shut everyone out. At the same time without doing information dumps, Whaley gives readers insights into this mental illness and the devastation of panic and anxiety. He gives readers the experience of wondering at times if Solomon is actually just fine and then sending Solomon into darkness once again. It is a powerful and truthful look at battling a mental illness.
This teen novel is complicated and incredibly vibrant. It looks at so much of what it takes to be a teenager in the modern world and asks whether it is the place for any teen to live. Appropriate for ages 14-18.
Reviewed from ARC received from Dial Books.