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{September 4, 2012}   {ARC Review} Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught

From Goodreads: 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.

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This novel is written is such a way that I think it might actually mirror the mind of someone suffering from schizophrenia.  Now, I can’t be 100% certain of that, and I  honestly don’t think anyone can be, but the way Jason interacts with those around him and the way he thinks during this narrative sounds like it might be spot on to me.  Freaks Like Us gives the reader a very in-depth glimpse into Jason’s mind allowing us to see and understand why it’s so difficult for him to explain his feelings, remember the truth, and interact with those around him.  It’s very well written and though the narrative takes off into left field on many an occasion, I found the novel fairly easy to follow, though I completely understand where someone might get confused because Jason’s mind is literally all over the place, and on occasions I found myself lost, just like him.  But in retrospect, I think that’s supposed to happen, in order for us to truly understand what a day in the life of Jason is like.

I think seeing such an in-depth glimpse into Jason’s mind helps endear him to the reader’s heart.  But I had a hard time connecting with the other characters.  I realize that this novel is about Jason and is supposed to focus on him, but I always want to get to know all the characters within a story, and I didn’t feel like I was able to do that in this one. Jason feels very strongly for Sunshine, but she’s not really a part of the story as much as she is the focus.  And Jason’s parents seem to be a bit worthless.  I completely understand the stresses of having a child with a mental disability, and I feel like there are so many novels out there pointing that out, but I feel like it’s rare to have one from the child’s point of view, and here we see that while Jason’s parents think they’re doing what’s best for him, they really don’t seem to have a clue.  That’s really interesting to me, actually, as we’re always so quick to decide what’s best for others when we actually don’t know because we’re not in their shoes…

I think Jason is a very strong, well rounded character and loved getting to know him, though I would have liked to get to know his friends, Drip and Sunshine, a lot more too.  But even so, Freaks Like Us is a very well written story and the ups and downs, along with the mystery behind Sunshine’s disappearance, really made the book appealing.  Three and a half stars.

Bloomsbury Children’s Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release today.

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