Warm your heart

'Highly Illogical Behaviour', by John Corey Whaley, reviewed by Sanaa Hyder.

Solomon Reed is a 16-year-old who hasn’t left his house in over three years due to his agoraphobia. ‘He was afraid of the world, afraid it would find a way to swallow him up.’ Although he has sought therapy and medication, he finds Star Trek leaves him feeling much better. Inside his house, Solomon has a garage that looks like a holodeck (the virtual reality facility from Star Trek); it allows him to re-imagine his anxieties.

Then intervenes Lisa Praytor who, years ago, watched Solomon’s panic attack unfold before he disappeared from school. Her motives are slightly convoluted but she means no harm through her naivety; she’s instinctively a caregiver. Together as a team, she and her boyfriend Clark, an easygoing jock, charm their way into Solomon’s home and life. Solomon is altogether delighted to find supportive friends. When Solomon casually refers to himself as the ‘crazy gay kid,’ Lisa sternly points out, ‘Those are two things about you out of a million. Don’t box yourself in.’

In this light-hearted contemporary novel, Whaley not only destigmatises mental illness but also realistically depicts family dynamics, sexuality, friendship and social support through relatable characters that inevitably warm your heart.

Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley; Faber & Faber; 2016; £7.99
Reviewed by Sanaa Hyder, who is a research assistant for the Saudi National Mental Health Survey in Saudi Arabia.

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