I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Form of Things Unknown by Robin Bridges
Release date: August 30th, 2016
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Natalie Roman isn’t much for the spotlight. But performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a stately old theatre in Savannah, Georgia, beats sitting alone replaying mistakes made in Athens. Fairy queens and magic on stage, maybe a few scary stories backstage. And no one in the cast knows her backstory.
Except for Lucas—he was in the psych ward, too. He won’t even meet her eye. But Nat doesn’t need him. She’s making friends with girls, girls who like horror movies and Ouija boards, who can hide their liquor in Coke bottles and laugh at the theater’s ghosts. Natalie can keep up. She can adapt. And if she skips her meds once or twice so they don’t interfere with her partying, it won’t be a problem. She just needs to keep her wits about her.
This is the type of book that breaks your heart — like smashes it to pieces and then stomps on it — then carefully puts it back together again. It’s about self-acceptance, discovery and recovery. But more than anything it hit close to home for me. It discusses mental illness in a real and honest way.
It’s seriously wonderful to see more and more young adult books discussing mental illness. There are still so many misconceptions about it which makes a lot of people living with mental illness feel fearful and ashamed. This book really hit the topic head on. It didn’t shy away from it at all. The book is about Natalie and she has tons of things to deal with. Her family has a history of mental illness (her grandmother is schizophrenic) and Natalie herself has just been released from a mental health facility. She wants to live like a “normal” teenager, but struggles with peer pressure and relationships.
I really liked this book because it felt real. The author wrote the characters in a way that you can’t help but connect with them. Natalie was everything I love in a protagonist. She’s intelligent, feisty and most certainly not perfect. She’s aware of her failings and grows so much by the end of the story. My emotions were all over the place because of this character. I just wanted to give her a hug at least a dozen times! I particularly enjoyed the slow burning romance between Natalie and Lucas. They were just so darn cute together!
While I liked the story of Natalie’s struggles to fit in and essential come to terms with her mental health issues, I could have done without the whole ghost storyline. Most of the book is about how Natalie joins a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. At the theatre strange things start to happen and the actors attribute it to a ghost. Natalie isn’t sure if she’s seeing things or if the ghost is real. The ending…the wrap-up. UGH! I just got so angry! I don’t want to spoil anything but all I can say is that it was less than satisfactory and totally rushed. It’s why I can’t give this book higher than 4 stars.
Overall, this was a great book and one that I would recommend. I’ve been requesting a lot of contemporary YA on NetGalley and so far haven’t been disappointed. Contemporary is quickly becoming one of my favourite genres!