The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf (website | twitter)
Publication Date: April 18, 2013
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: sick parent, best friend trouble, boy drama, chaotic teenage life
Format read: ARC received via NetGalley (Thank you!)
Summary: Izzy has a lot going on in her life — family, friend, and romance-wise — so much that she doesn’t really know how to handle it. She’s also a hypochondriac who looks up all the symptoms she feels. The problem is, in real life, there’s no easy, curable way to put all the dramatic pieces of her life back together.
Izzy looks up every symptom she feels to determine whether or not she’s sick. She’s a hypochondriac.
But, really, beneath the surface of all the pretend illnesses Izzy could possibly maybe have, she’s got a whole lot going on in her life:
- a mother who refuses to accept she’s sick and needs help
- a potential new boyfriend who wants to sprint around the bases faster than Izzy feels comfortable with
- three art pieces to start/finish for a chance to study in Italy
- a best friend who is acting completely out of character
- an ex-best friend who seems to want to be friends again
Friends, there was a lot to absorb in The Symptoms of My Insanity. Izzy was under so much pressure and her passiveness didn’t help to sort through any of the tasks that were building up in her life. As an outsider, I wanted to scream at Izzy to run in the other direction when her best friend, Jenna, throws her into the midst of set design for the drama club. After all I’ve listed above, don’t you agree Izzy has enough going on? Sure, Izzy is definitely a pushover and should have stood up for herself (countless times), but it was painful to see the tornado of disaster that was about to sweep through Izzy’s life. Especially when she was trying to balance so much she couldn’t see the destruction heading her way.
Ultimately, I walked away feeling glad that I had finished Mindy Raf’s book, but I still wish she hadn’t put Izzy through quite so much. Reflecting on the story, I wish Raf would have left out the entire Izzy-starts-dating-Blake storyline (in which he’s a jerk with zero backbone and does something pretty craptastic to Izzy). I wasn’t entirely happy with the resolution here and it seemed unnecessarily dramatic (especially when there was a kind, nerdy boy patiently waiting for Izzy to recognize him as more than a friend). The subtle side romance would have been so much sweeter without the hasty relationship with Blake thrown into the mix.
In real life it seems when one terrible thing happens, a ton of others seem to follow. True as that may be, Izzy probably would have had a nervous breakdown if her story were real. And though things did end well, after so much negative buildup I would have liked to have reveled in the ending a bit more to see how things played out long-term in Izzy’s life. (I felt like I closed the book with a heavy heart.)
Sure, I definitely enjoy drama in books, but I am a firm believer that enough is enough for there to be a sense of realism. Raf’s writing was meticulous, but a ‘less is more’ approach would have helped me relate to Izzy in a more meaningful way instead of feeling like I was approaching a train wreck.