Between the Bliss and Me

Soho Teen. Apr. 2021. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781641291156.
Gr 9 Up–In a Gilmore Girls–type standoff, white 18-year-old Sydney Holman and her mom are at odds because of the huge amount of money Sydney’s grandparents gave her to attend NYU in the fall. Though Sydney respects her mother, who has worked single-handedly to provide her daughter with everything she needs, she does not understand her mother’s resistance to her leaving their New Jersey home for college. She soothes her anxiety by spending a few weeks of the summer in her grandparents’ luxury house by the shore. There, she encounters Grayson, who is in her friend Elliot’s band and has been designated as off-limits. Though she continues to flirt with him, she accepts that they can only be friends. In order to calm herself, Sydney often imagines her father talking to her, something she has done since childhood. When she learns that what she thought was a drug addiction is actually bigger—her father has schizophrenia, self-medicates with drugs and alcohol, and has been homeless for several years—she begins to fear for her own mental health. A tragedy makes her reevaluate all of her beliefs and she is left to decide how to proceed with her future. Though this story is a slow build at first, it picks up quickly and becomes a riveting read about dealing with mental illness. The connections between the characters could have been developed more and the mother’s passive-aggressiveness is irritating at times, but ultimately the portrayal of a person with schizophrenia and the lack of support for him becomes the most compelling part of this book.
VERDICT Highly recommended for libraries to highlight characters with mental illness.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing