Title: A DANGER TO HERSELF AND OTHERS
Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Release Date: 02.05.2019
TW: psychosis, eating disorder
Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there’s been a mistake. She didn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her 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. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side.
Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.
Thanks to the publisher and and Netgalley for the eARC in exchange of an honest review.
A thrilling and heartfelt story about finding about and coming to terms with mental illnesses and learning to accept it.
The story follows Hannah Gold after she is admitted to the psychiatric ward following her involvement with her roommate’s fall from the window during summer school. As the story progresses, Hannah starts to realize she’s not what she thinks she is and has to accept it.
The book starts off in a captivating way, immediately pulling you in the narrative and into Hannah’s mind. Hannah is a relatable character from the very beginning but also an unreliable one. From the start, she keeps denying that her roommate’s fall was her fault and that she had any reason to be in the mental hospital. And at first, she can convince the readers as well.
As the story progressed, I had a lot of theories of what might be going on with Hannah and I was wrong. The plot takes a very unpredictable turn. It’s both engaging and shocking. But Hannah’s character takes 180 degree turn as well when she starts helping her roommate Lucy. From the beginning, Hannah is shown to be narcissistic and even unempathetic but then she suddenly will risk her privileges to help her roommate which doesn’t make much sense and messes up the consistency of her character.
The inconsistent character development seemed to be a product of Sheinmel trying too hard to keep Hannah an unreliable character and keep the readers questioning who Hannah truly is and whether she really should be in the hospital. But it only ended up being confusing and hard to keep up with.
Even though Hannah’s mental illnesses felt unnecessarily mystified, I liked how this book had positive psychosis representation. Sure, it didn’t cover any of the emotions related to finding out your own diagnosis for the first time besides confusion and denial, but it was still a good rep to help people empathize with those with psychosis. Unlike mainstream media, Sheinmel shows Hannah’s psychosis as it is–a messed up reality where you question everything, instead of something that makes you unstable and violent.
The story seemed to stretch for too long. The characters were strong but the plot was unnecessarily long. I felt like I was just reading and flipping through the pages without going anywhere. It keeps the readers spiraling into Hannah’s memories which makes sense in the last few chapters, but I still feel like this book could convey the whole story and its message without almost half of the scenes.
Overall, it was a great read that shed light on psychosis and made an effort to show people with psychosis positively.