Expected Publication: September 1st 2015
Everything about Jonah is unexpected. On the first day of school, he sits next to April, when he could have chosen to sit with the popular girl. He turns down an invitation to join the school team and declares he’d rather paint. He encourages April to develop her musical talent and shrugs off the bullies that torment them.
April isn’t surprised to find herself falling for Jonah. The unexpected part is when he falls for her too.
But the giddy happiness of their first romance begins to fade when Jonah’s unpredictability begins to take a darker turn. April understands that her boyfriend is haunted by a painful memory, but his sudden mood swings worry her. She can’t explain his growing fear of cellphones, electric keyboards, and of sounds that no one else can hear. Still, no matter what happens, April is sure that she’ll always stand by him.
Until Jonah finally breaks and is committed to a psychiatric ward.
Until schizophrenia changes everything.
Though everyone urges her to let him go, April stays true to Jonah. But as the boy she adores begins to disappear in front of her, she has to face her worst fear: that her love may not be enough to save him.
My Rating: 4/5 (Really Good)
Genre(s): Contemporary (Mental Illness), Young-Adult
ARC Page Count: 336
Thank you Sourcebooks Fire for sending me an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley! This did not affect my review in any way. Any of the quotes used are from an uncorrected proof and may be changed in the final copy.
Hello, today I have for you an ARC review on Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Scheier! This book is a contemporary novel that covers mental illness (schizophrenia). I honestly haven’t read many books of this topic, one of the reasons why this book caught my eye, especially after reading (and enjoying) Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, the one book of schizophrenia I’ve read recently. This book turned out to be way different than what I expected—way different than Made You Up (in case some of you were wondering), generally in a good way. If you’re into mental illness in YA (and by mental illness, I mean, a true, realistic portrayal of it), I urge you to pick up this book. The schizophrenia was shown for what it really was, not sugarcoated, and it was clear the author did her research, which is fantastic. My main problem with this book, however, was the fact that I wasn’t a big fan of the main character. Actually, I wasn’t a fan of almost all of the characters in here. The secondary characters came off as stereotypical and the main character herself was a bit too bland and needy for my taste. But by the end of the novel, I was able to look past all that to say that I still enjoyed this book.
My feelings on the plot varied throughout the story. At the start the plot generally annoyed me, mainly because the characters all got on my nerves and I couldn’t get into the story. I didn’t like April much (she was extremely judgmental, and quite naive, which just didn’t work out with me), and it definitely didn’t help when she went ahead and instantly fell in love with the new guy in her class. I’m not completely against insta-love, I know it can definitely work for the better at times, but this book was definitely not one of those times. I just wasn’t feeling it.
Luckily, as I continued through the story, the plot got better, in that we started to get introduced to the symptoms of schizophrenia. I started to look past the characters into seeing more of the schizophrenia’s effects, and it was truly heart-wrenching seeing the denial the characters went through, seeing the tougher, grittier side of schizophrenia, which, trust me, isn’t pretty.
Near the end of the novel (maybe after 60 or 70% read) I really started to get emotionally attached to everything. The feels! There starts to have so much going on, and my emotions just kind of all explode all over the place. I absolutely loved that! I would even go as far as to say that this almost got me to shed a tear, which doesn’t often happen. Although the plot isn’t the best right from the get-go, it’s definitely drama and emotion-packed!
“I was the one he trusted. I was the one he loved, the only one who believed him, even when his own mother had locked him away and thrown away the key.”
I wasn’t a big fan of April, I’ll admit that. For a good part of the book I found her to be bland, selfish, naive and even a bit needy as well. It just wasn’t my favorite combo, but I will admit that in some ways you can consider her to be a realistic portrayal of how a lot of people would act in her shoes. And perhaps for some of you April will be a great protagonist, but for me, she just wasn’t the best. However, that being said, once I got near the middle-ish and the end, I started to really care for her. What she went through, must’ve been torturous, and my heart honestly hurt for her by the end. So, I guess these two opposing sentiments kind of just cancel eachother out, and to put it simply; she was an okay protagonist. Her character is pretty easy to sympathize with, even if she wasn’t the most likable person at the start. I ended up genuinely rooting for her, which is great.
Jonah, April’s love interest, is the one suffering from schizophrenia. He is definitely my favorite character in the book, it didn’t take me long ’till I fell under his spell and was rooting for him completely. We don’t see right away the effects of the schizophrenia; we get the time to get to know him, see what he’s like. Which, ultimately, meant that my heart broke even harder when we start seeing the symptoms, because I had already grown attached to him. It was so heartbreaking to see how damaging the effects of schizophrenia can be, although I praise Leah Scheier for doing such a wonderful job on it. There was no sugar-coating, and although seeing it through April’s eyes didn’t allow for us to see what Jonah himself was thinking, it was clear how much he was struggling. Honestly, I’m rendered speechless just thinking about it all, because my words cannot do justice to express how heart-wrenching it was, reading what Jonah went through.
The writing is very pleasant, it had a conversational style to it, with a more serious mood underlying it. The pacing was relatively fast (to reflect the nature of schizophrenia, I suppose, what with its unpredictability, etc.) It really suited the story and was intriguing to read. The story is written from the first-person perspective of April, which, I suppose is fitting and also did its part to have me sympathize with her character.
I really enjoyed this novel, despite not being a fan of April for a good chunk of the first half of the novel. April, really is what prevented me from rating this book higher, but overall I consider this to be a heart-wrenching novel that you should definitely not miss if you’re looking for a well-written portrayal of schizophrenia. The plot had me absolutely all over the place in the end; my emotions ranged from despairing to desperate and so much more. I loved Jonah so much, and I praise Leah Scheier for being able to bring out such strong responses from me (and other readers, I’m sure). The ending was lovely, in a kind of heartbreaking and bittersweet way. I’m not usually a big fan of open endings (as there is in this book) and wasn’t a big fan of this one at first, but overall, I found it to be quite fitting for the story. All in all, Your Voice is All I Hear is an emotional read that is not afraid to show the true effects of schizophrenia—and how it can change the lives of so many in the matter of seconds. A wonderful story!
What you do think of this book? Have you read it? Let me know in the comments below!
Hungry? Well don’t worry, you’ll get your chance to gobble this up when it releases tomorrow! 😉