She ate her first needle when she was seven. Now, at nineteen, she’s been kicked out of college for poisoning herself with laxatives. The shrinks call it Munchausen Syndrome. All Saylor knows is that when she’s ill, her normally distant mother pays attention and the doctors and nurses make her feel special.
Then she meets Drew Dean, the leader of a local support group for those with terminal diseases. When he mistakes her for a new member, Saylor knows she should correct him. But she can’t bring herself to, not after she’s welcomed into a new circle of friends. Friends who, like Drew, all have illnesses ready to claim their independence or their lives.
For the first time, Saylor finds out what it feels like to be in love, to have friends who genuinely care about her. But secrets have a way of revealing themselves. What will happen when Saylor’s is out?
I have never met anyone with Munchausen syndrome; I’ve never studied it outside of a one-day Health class discussion, and I’ve certainly never read about it in a novel, so when given the chance, I jumped at it because this is something completely different. And honestly, I think this is what made the story itself so interesting to me, as Saylor is far from the run-of-the-mill protagonist I see in many novels, and delving deep into her mind and sickness really made me stop and think about the world and the many, many people in it. For someone who doesn’t suffer from Munchausen, Saylor probably seems a bit crazy, and it’s very easy for those around her to pass judgment on her. Heck, it’s easy for readers to pass judgment on her, too, and to even dislike her because of her issues, but I found it extremely interesting, refreshing even, to have a main character with such a deep rooted issue like this, stemming from her childhood and her yearning for attention. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read, and though I don’t condone her behavior or her lies, I get it, and that’s what made the story come together for me.
One of the huge underlying issues that this book addresses is Saylor’s relationship with her mother, the crux from which Saylor’s Munchausens and attitude towards life stem. Though the main focus deals with Saylor’s whirlwind romance with Drew, the heaviness of the novel really sits on the mother-daughter relationship, which I found to be quite profound and intriguing.
While I liked the novel overall, I will say that I found many of the situations within the novel itself to be rather unbelievable for me, personally. For instance, if I were a therapist for someone with Munchausen, the last place I’d try to get them a volunteering job would be a hospital where they could potentially obtain medications and syringes, etc. That just doesn’t sound smart, especially if all that stops her from going into certain areas is a badge… but hey, I’m not a therapist or a Munchausen specialist, so maybe this is completely normal and feasible. For me, however, it had me slapping my forehead because it truly sounds like they’re just asking for something bad to happen.
Saylor is a dynamic character whom I truly enjoyed getting to know, even if I’m not necessarily a fan of her choices in life, and I am extremely happy with the ending of the novel because it did seem very realistic. It wasn’t one of those novels where love heals all things, or peoples’ lies go unpunished. It was just… perfect. Three stars.
The publisher has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its publication on June 3, 2013.