When I first started reading this book, I honestly thought this was going to be one of those super YA stories about a young woman who is on the brink of growing up and falls in love. Yes, it is all those things, but there is so much more to this than just vapid annoyance.
Trigger warning. Please note that this book has themes of:
- Mental health issues
- Eating disorders
- Drug abuse
Here’s more about the book
Freshman year at Harvard was the most anticlimactic year of Danny’s life. She’s failing pre-med and drifting apart from her best friend. One by one, Danny is losing all the underpinnings of her identity. When she finds herself attracted to an older, edgy girl who she met in rehab for an eating disorder, she finally feels like she might be finding a new sense of self. But when tragedy strikes, her self-destructive tendencies come back to haunt her as she struggles to discover who that self really is.
If you’re looking for a sophisticated “adult” read, be prepared. This isn’t for adults. The writing and the voice is way more amateur, but as a young adult novel this voice isn’t meant for adults. This book in general isn’t made for adults because while hitting on some serious adult themes, it’s still made for teenagers.
The only thing that really irked me about the book was the writing and the voice. However, I also took it with a grain of sand because Florence Gonsalves had a point in writing this book with that particular voice.
Aside from that, this was one randomly deep book. I picked this up because I wanted to read something light and simple. With the word “love” and a cute picture of a Venus Fly Trap, I thought that this would be one of those books. However, what I got was quite the opposite.
The main character, Danny (short for Dandelion, which is kind of cringe-y for a name), is a young driven woman who during her first year at Harvard suffered from so much stress and disorder in her life that she was placed in a special hospital for her eating disorder. The story begins with her release from the hospital and trying to reconnect with her friends during summer break. She has until the end of the summer to decide if she wants to go back to Harvard after she’s feeling better.
During that time, she’s faced with her best friend, Sarah, who has changed drastically within the ten months they were separated for school. She also meets a friend she met at the hospital, Bugg, who later becomes her love interest.
I think that if you’re a person who has ever had a best friend throughout your childhood and suddenly feel the strain of leaving each other for school, then this book will resonate with you. You may not be suffering from an eating disorder or even questioning your sexuality, but if you thought your friends would be friends forever and now it’s not then this will ring in your ears like the bells of Notre Dame.
I really liked this book because I resonated with that. Also, I resonated with some of the mental health issues Florence Gonsalves brings up. While I don’t have an eating disorder, it’s been considered that Bulimia and Anorexia both have underlying symptoms of OCD. The inability to control everything around them materializes in control over your own body and your food intake. It becomes an obsession with obsessive thoughts. For example, being able to look at a piece of food and not spiral out of control on what would happen if you ate that food.
It was really difficult to read Danny’s relationship with food. She’s always wearing mu-mus because she’s ashamed of the way her body looks. You find her vegan-ness to be more of a way to control her calorie intake than really anything to do with the harm of innocent creatures. You can see the symptoms in everything she says (lots of denial), her binge eating habits, her inability to tell the truth, etc.
I think the only thing I felt was a little unbelievable was the levels of Hell she found herself in. Most people don’t experience as much pain and loss as Danny does and somehow Danny gets through ALL of it before the end of the book. In the realism of the book, I had to ding it because it just doesn’t seem feasible that she can have that much woe at one time. Perhaps it is and there are some people who experience everything at once. When it rains it pours.
But in the end, I really liked this book and it kept my attention the entire time. Now I really need something a little bit more simple and fun.
- Type of book: Paperback, 352 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (May 15, 2018)
- Rating: 3/5 stars
I received a copy of this book from The Novl for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.