Three years ago Solomon Reed had a panic attack at school He striped off his clothes and climbed into the fountain in front of everyone, and since then, he hasn't left his house; he hasn't even gone into the back yard. And he is perfectly fine with that. Lisa Praytor is a high school junior who remembers Solomon's break down. She wants to help him, but not because she is sorry for him, but because she wants to go to Woodlawn University and be in their psychology program, the second highest ranking psychology program in the country because she knows that there she can be number one. The only thing is, she needs a scholarship to get in. To win this scholarship, people looking to apply must write a paper about their personal experience with mental illness; this is where Solomon comes into play.
Through manipulative means, Lisa weasels her way into Solomon's life. Sol is careful about letting her in, but his grandmother tells him that if he invites Lisa over, she will buy him a pool, the only thing that might get Sol to leave the house. So, despite the voice in the back of his head telling him no, when Lisa calls him that night, he invites her over for the next day.
The first visit is short as he shows her around the house and she meets his parents, but other visits are longer as they watch movies, play card games, and learn about one another. With each visit, Lisa pays attention to Sol's different quirks and learns what triggers him. When she thinks he is ready, she brings along her boyfriend, Clark, who has a lot in common with Solomon. Through the course of the end of the school year and the summer, the three build a friendship that Sol never thought was possible for someone who lived the life that he does.
The people who know that Lisa plans to write her essay on Solomon do not agree with her plan. Her best friend Janice does not like the lack of time she is getting with Lisa; her mother is going through a strain in her marriage; and Lisa begins to questions Clarks feelings for her as he grows closer to Solomon, who is gay.
The book comes to an exciting climax when Solomon professes his love for Clark, finds out about the essay, and his grandmother is in a car accident. How everything pans out is beautiful!
What I Liked
- All of the characters felt real, even Lisa, who I adamantly hated the entire book. Every personality quirk and conflict they face is extremely plausible.
- I loved learning a little bit about agoraphobia. It is not as commonly discussed as other forms of mental illness, so it was extremely interesting to know what a person who suffers from it goes through.
- The way Solomon explains panic attacks is so accurate! This one is just one of the passages that describes his panic attacks that I related too.
"Then, as soon as he shut the door behind her, he started to feel like he couldn't catch his breath. He leaned against the wall for a second, trying to breathe through it, hoping he could shake it off. But he couldn't. Now hyperventilating, he stumbled down the hallway and into his bedroom, where he crawled under the covers and rode it out, his body shaking from side to side, his eyes closed so tightly they were starting to hurt. It was brief but intense, and afterward Solomon just lay there listening to his breath as it leveled out. Sometimes that's all you can do when it happens-hold on just long enough for the world to stop shaking. (pp. 60-61)
What I Didn't Like
- I hate Lisa. I really, really hate Lisa. I know there are people out there like her, and I hate them too. She uses Sol for her own means and that is just disgusting!
This book was so incredibly moving. When Sol has his big panic attack, I cried. Sol's first experience outside, there are no words. I really loved this book. It is so inspirational!
Alternating between Solomon and Lisa's point of views made the story wonderful. When Sol was saying what he thought about Lisa, you could actually like her, and then it was made so much worse when you remembered that she is using him. From Lisa's chapters, you feel what it feels like when someone you care about is breaking down and there is nothing you can do to help.
Pages: 249 (hardback)
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health