Monday, August 12, 2013

Freaks Like Us: a review

Author: Susan Vaught 
Info:  Bloomsbury USA Childrens, copyright 2012, 240 pages

When Jason Milwaukee's best friend Sunshine vanishes, Jason knows that something is terribly wrong, but solving her disappearance will require pushing through all the voices in his head and then getting the world to listen to him. His schizophrenia is stopping him from remembering the events leading up to her disappearance, and often he discounts his own memories, and his own impressions. But his deep knowledge that he would never hurt his friend, plus the faith of his parents and a few others in the town bring him to the point of solving the mystery. In the end, it's Sunshine's own love for Jason (Freak) that persuades him of his own strength and goodness.

~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
Jason is an “alphabet,” a term his friends created to describe their disabilities and define their place in school.  He can usually keep the voices in his head in control, but when he gets stressed, he struggles to define reality and trust the people keeping him safe.  When Sunshine mysteriously disappears after school one day, the fear and confusion sets Jason into a spiral, and he desperately attempts to hold on himself and focus past the voices long enough to find that she is safe.

The Awesome
Jason is a pretty awesome dude despite the fear of a mental breakdown, mistrust, and loneliness.  He has created a family of pure understanding in Drip and Sunshine.  Their loyalty is admirable and their respect and appreciation for who they are as individuals puts so many other characters to shame.

The Not So Awesome
The lack of a backstory hurt the plot a bit.  Jason is an interesting, but often times frustrating, narrator.  Yes.  Probably the point.  But a few plot blips left me wanting a little more, questioning decisions made.  Did Jason do something in the past that might have made his father suspicious?  Why would his mother immediately think to bring a lawyer?  I just couldn't figure out, through the scatter, why and FBI agent would jump down the throat of a young boy who had previously shown no signs of aggression.

Freaks Like Us is narrated solely by Jason, and in a sense, the voices in his head.  Vaught pushes her young
character to the extreme and takes the reader on an emotional ride through the first twenty-four hours and beyond of Sunshine’s disappearance.  The chapters are broken up by the hour of the search which allows for a fast reading pace. 

This is not the first story I’ve read from the unique perspective of a person with a mental disability, and honestly, not the best, but Vaught’s novel is definitely worth the read.  If you are a fan of realistic fiction from unique perspectives that give a voice to people with disabilities, check out Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...