Whaley, John Corey. Highly Illogical Behavior. Fiction. Dial, 05/2016. 256pp. $17.99. 978-0-525-42818-3. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 8-12.
Whaley (Where Things Come Back, 2012) does an exceptional job of creating an authentic character who has a mental illness that is integral to the plot, keeping this a charming and witty YA coming-of-age novel, rather than an “issue” book. Sixteen-year-old agoraphobic Solomon Reed has not left his house for over three years. But fellow teen and amateur psychologist, Lisa Praytor, remembers his last day at school when he submerged himself in a fountain and is determined to ”fix” him, so she can write a scholarship-winning essay about her experience with mental illness. Unaware of Lisa’s ulterior motive, Sol quickly finds the pleasure of having a friend, and this is increased when Lisa’s handsome and easy-going boyfriend Clark starts coming along, too. Told alternately from Sol and Lisa’s third-person points of view, the novel quickly builds up a portrait of thoroughly and realistically complicated teens on the verge of adulthood. As their friendship deepens, their trust in each other grows, but the shaky foundations on which it is built looms just offstage. The novel’s tone, flawed-but-lovable characters, and plot arc are reminiscent of John Green and should have wide appeal to teen readers. Review based on an ARC
Hayley Beale, San Francisco Univ High School