Book Review: Mental by Justice Serai

Mental CoverHope is an illusion meant to convince the broken to keep on living. That’s me. Broken.

My father pays heaps of money for doctors at the Norfolk Psychiatric Center to fix me. I’ve spent six months of my prime teenage years at this residential facility – a place for teenagers who’ve gone mental.

That’s me. Mental.

Just when I begin to feel myself fade away, a boy with a wolfish smile and mischievous eyes reels me in. Julian is broken too, but he believes in me enough for the both of us. Through him, I begin to experience this thing called hope. Doctors can’t fix me, my parents can’t either, but maybe it’s not me who needs fixing.

After all, mental is only a state of mind. It all depends on who’s doing the thinking.

 

New beginnings – a refreshing new start, a chance to change the past and an opportunity to influence the future. Of all the different angles I could’ve written this review from, I think the best way to encompass what this entire book is about is to talk about how the protagonist got her second chance to live life to the fullest.

Lucy Oakman is 17 years old, and has lived in a mental hospital for nine months, battling Schizophrenia. She’s been constantly attacked by her disease; she sees things and hears things that aren’t really there. She feels as if the walls of the facility are protecting her from the “demons” that try to steal her soul. She believes that she is safe in the institution and is resigned with the fact that she’ll never get better or ever make her super rich parents proud of her.

Then, Julian shows up. The guy with the wolfish smile and the ability to make Lucy feel as if she’s not broken. At times, she believes that he’s only a figment of her imagination because of how perfect he seems. However, Julian has his own demons to deal with.

Throughout the rest of the novel, this unlikely couple pair up together to battle their insecurities and troubled past together in this unembellished and insightful story on what it really means to live with an incurable disease.

 

I know this might sound insensitive but I loved reading about Lucy’s story. This is actually the first time I’ve ever read a story about a protagonist with Schizophrenia. I enjoyed being in Lucy’s mind and getting a first-hand look at how a person with Schizophrenia behaves. Being in her head with her, it was easy to empathize with her. Sometimes it was unbearable because I started really liking her and to see her suffer through the delusions, I just wanted to shake her and tell her that what she’s hearing and seeing aren’t real. But Julian was there to do all that for me. It’s truly amazing to witness how he pulls Lucy out of the depths of her insanity. After a while, I wanted to roll my eyes at how she made him her world.

Thankfully, the author doesn’t make this story a teenage romance cliché. Instead, when Julian goes away, Lucy finds the strength within her herself to fight off her disease. She vows to put in a serious effort to defeat the voices in her head. She knows that she will never be able to rid herself of the disease but she’ll put in a conscious effort to recognize the moments when she’s going over the edge.

In all, this story was a raw look at how it feels to suffer from an incurable disease and that no matter how hopeless you might feel, if you allow yourself to accept the help from those who love you, your future is as bright as a star.

Rating: 9/10

Book Info:

Length: 163 pages

Source: My own copy

Genre: YA Fiction, Romance

Completed: April 2015

Leigh-Ann Brodber is an upcoming enthusiastic journalist. She knows it is a field that is already heavily flooded by diverse opinions, hard criticism and occasional appraisal (when it’s due), but she’s sure she’ll be able to add her own colors to the journalism rainbow soon enough. Leigh-Ann currently attends COSTAATT, a college located in the Caribbean, where she’s pursuing her Bachelors in Mass Communication. She’s written film, stage production and food articles for various websites, and she’s also a born and bred animal rights activist, although she doesn’t think she’ll ever give up her rights to eat chicken. She has helped out at her local hospital many-a-time by indulging in weekly chit-chat with patients under a program called Candy Stripers. She recently started getting help for her long term Facebook addiction, she swears.