Author: John Corey Whaley
Publisher: Dial Books
Published Date: May 10th 2016
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mental Health, LGBTQIA
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.
"Solomon never needed to leave the house anyway. He had food. He had water. He could see the mountains from his bedroom window, and his parents were so busy all the time that he pretty much got to be the sole ruler of the house."
This has to be one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year.
Solomon has agoraphobia and anxiety, and because of his anxiety and something that happened at school one day. He hasn’t left the house in years.
That last day of school for Solomon though was the one that stayed with Lisa for a long time. And now that she needs to get into the college of her dreams she is going to try and help him. Except she doesn’t tell anyone this and instead decides to make a friendship with Solomon that has everyone around her questing her real motives behind it.
"Find him, fix him, and get my scholarship. That was the plan. But he wasn't a patient and I wasn't a counselor, so we became friends instead. Then, before I knew it, he was getting better, and it wasn't because of my natural talent for performing cognitive behavioral therapy on a sixteen-year-old agoraphobes with panic disorder, either. It was because now he had a reason to get better."When Lisa’s boyfriend starts getting jealous of all the time she’s spending with Solomon she decides to bring him along so that Solomon can make another friend and she can spend more time really getting to see Solomon and what has made him so afraid of everything.
But she never expected her boyfriend and Solomon to have so much in common or for them to get along so well. Plus Lisa’s boyfriend ends up almost helping Solomon more than Lisa had done before he got involved.
"It was the thing they had most in common- all they wanted was a quite place to be invisible and pretend the world away. And that's exactly what they had before things got weird. Now, no matter what they told themselves or each other, it would always be different. After all, no first love goes away overnight, especially one that's always right in front of you, but just out of your reach."
Then we also have Solomon’s parents and grandma. They all love him dearly and just want the best for him, but they also don’t know how to deal with the agoraphobia. His parents have made him comfortable in the house and try and provide him with everything he needs, and encourage him as well to get out of the house even just to backyard they would be happy with.
One night his grandma makes him promise that before she dies that he will leave the house. So he makes that promise, and he plans to keep it.
"The world is big and scary and unforgiving. But we can survive out here."
When everything goes terribly wrong though and Solomon finds out Lisa’s true motives for befriending him, all of the progress that Solomon had made crumbles away.
"This was his territory. His fortress of solitude, impenetrable to the outside world."
Overall I loved this book. I know it’s probably not perfect, but it did show me some important things that I had never thought about when it comes to agoraphobia. At times I felt like Solomon had the right idea with staying inside all the time when you consider how dangerous the world can be sometimes. But that isn’t a real option. Yes staying inside all day will most likely keep you safe from things, but it also takes away any chance of a “normal” life.
This book talks about so much more than just anxiety and agoraphobia. It deals with family dynamics, and figuring out who you are in life and what you want to do. Who you want to be with forever and how you plan to do this. As for Solomon’s sexuality yes he’s gay and he was okay with that. No one in his family or his new friends cared and just kept treating him as they had.
I really like the friendships that were made in this book and Solomon’s family dynamic. I can’t wait to read more by this author in the future.