Nick and June Were Here

304p. Knopf. Feb. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399556586.
Gr 7 Up—This is a love story between two well-intentioned teens who struggle not to let their specific challenges define them, or their relationship. June has long dealt with hallucinations and some trouble with perceiving reality. Fully immersed in the college application process, she stops sleeping and finds that the voices in her head are becoming harder to ignore. Her newish relationship with longtime pal Nick is part of what helps keep her grounded, even as he faces his own struggles related to poverty and crime. June and Nick idealistically hope that their love will help them overcome forces beyond their control, but soon learn that real-life problems require far more complex responses. A dual narrative, alternating between June and Nick's perspectives, allows for a fuller understanding of both characters. June's chapters reflect her at-times fragmented reality, while Nick's perceptions of her behavior help to illuminate what may be really going on. Stanley deals respectfully with the very real obstacles these two face, including the refusal to apply an easy out or happily-ever-after in this challenging situation. The inclusion of helpful adults, including family members and medical professionals, teach both the characters and readers more about June's eventual diagnosis and how she can learn to live with it.
VERDICT A sincere, thoughtful romance well suited for those interested in better understanding some mental health issues, as well as fans of quiet works by Sarah Dessen and Nicola Yoon.

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