The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The premise of this book is the coming together of 4 teenagers suffering from some form of mental instability at a summer camp for mentally ill teens. Loosely referencing the Breakfast Club, the themes of the 80's movies were loudly echoed; teens in pain, grown ups are bumbling idiots and completely clueless to what teens are really doing, teens can facilitate their own therapy and have a happy ending on one Saturday detention or one summer camp. Because mental illness can be resolved with peer acceptance, candy, crackers, and perhaps a daily Prozac.
I realize I am being exceptionally hard on this book but the author took on a lot of heavy issues yet did so without fully addressing any of them. My psychology background had so many issues with the above mentioned holes and stereotypes. The death knell was Cassie's story and resolution. That resolution wouldn't fix her. Or even give her hope. Clearly suffering from Reactive Attachment Disorder, it is highly improbable she would respond so well to acceptance, let alone cure her of anorexia. Hers and the other's issues would be much, much more complex than as was presented.
Disclaimer: On the day I read this book, I had been to lunch with a friend who had recently made the heartbreaking decision to rescind parental rights on her 14 year old daughter that she had adopted 11 years ago after being removed from her mother's custody. She tearfully recounted how she arrived at this decision and shared the feelings of utter failure of not being up to the task to heal this child of all her hurt, her RAD, and feeling bled dry. Sacrifice, acceptance, and parental love were not enough. My friend cried and hugged her close, told her she loved her. Her daughter felt no connection to this family. She simply left.
Meanwhile, in my professional realm, I see the complicated mental health issues teenagers are facing daily. One girl is pre-schizophrenic. There are available treatments and early interventions but her parents have paranoia issues and don't want any services. Yes, there is a genetic component to it but it's not as cut and dried as presented in the book. Schizophrenia is not the same as Huntington's Disease. It can manifest itself very differently yet be managed in many cases. It is not an automatic assumption that one will spend every day in a state of psychosis and believing himself to be Jesus.
So my big issues were the oversimplification, the stereotypes and cliche's, and biting off more material than could be adequately covered in an easy read, YA genre.
But clearly I have issues.
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