Words on Bathroom Walls

304p. Random. Jul. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399550881.
Gr 10 Up—Refusing to talk to his psychologist, Adam Petrazelli records answers to the doctor's questions in a running diary. The result is a startling, humorous, and painstakingly honest account of 10 months in the life of a high school boy who has schizophrenia. While Adam participates in an experimental drug trial, his recurring hallucinations appear to fade as the levels of the drug increase. He enrolls at a new school; befriends Dwight, a quirky fellow student; and pursues a romantic relationship with feisty, intelligent Maya. When his life finally begins to resemble that of a typical 11th grader, Adam learns that his miracle treatment is losing its effectiveness. As circumstances spiral out of his control, he desperately attempts to make sense of his illness and accept that his world will never be normal. Walton has crafted a character with unparalleled likability, a boy whose endearing, witty, introspective commentary allows readers to get inside the head of a person with a debilitating mental illness. Through journal entries that catalogue the details of Adam's daily life, including his drug dosage and extraordinary visions of imaginary people, the author brings the gritty details of a complex mental disorder to light. Though the realistic depiction of the disease may be disconcerting to some teens, it succeeds in giving an unfiltered, true-to-life picture of one person's struggle with schizophrenia.
VERDICT A heartfelt, gripping story that demystifies an illness too often ignored. Highly recommended for older teens and adults.

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