Miss Riki’s Review:
Izzy and Connor met at summer camp, where they were both art counselors. From the moment he laid eyes on Izzy, Connor was deeply and inexplicably drawn to her irreverent humor and sarcastic wit. When the summer ended, Izzy refused anything more than an e-mail communication relationship that left Connor always wanting more. This story is told completely in e-mail correspondence between Connor and Izzy and depicts the shaky, flirtatious beginnings of young love, before deepening into a dark and devastating descent into madness. Nothing can ease Connor’s mind as Izzy bounces between manic highs and depressive lows that leave him fearing for her safety. In a race against time, Connor must convince Izzy that she needs help before it is too late to save her from the recesses of her own mind.
I had a really difficult time with this novel. To start, I really disliked the way it was written entirely in e-mails. It took me a very long time to get into the flow of the story this way, and I found them to lag at times and not always advance the plot. The book is almost 400 pages long, but I felt like it could have clocked in at around 250 and still made the same point. The story takes a long time to get rolling, and really lags in the middle.
As for the romance, I had a difficult time understanding what Connor saw in Izzy from the beginning. She’s not all that nice to him in her correspondence, and without seeing more of how they related to each other when they met at art camp, it was difficult to sense their connection. Had this novel been written in a standard narrative format and showed their relationship at camp, I might have been able to relate better and see the connection between them. As it is written now, Connor’s intense focus on Izzy seems unfounded and borders on obsessive in its own right.
The depiction of Izzy with bipolar disorder also didn’t ring true for me. It felt overwrought and contrived at times and really sensationalized the condition in a way that felt wrong to me. There were moments that did feel right and showed the rapid deterioration of her mental health, but they led up to a very dramatized suicide attempt that felt like it was trying to hard. I have direct experience with both bipolar disorder and suicide, and I felt uncomfortable with the way both were portrayed in this novel. Unfortunately, that made it very hard to enjoy this book.
I’ve found that there are so many wonderful young adult novels that handle mental health issues in a profound and meaningful way, and this book just didn’t stack up to that kind of scrutiny.