Publication Date: Available Now from Sourcebooks Fire.
April won’t let Jonah go without a fight.
He’s her boyfriend—her best friend. She’ll do anything to keep him safe. But as Jonah slips into a dark depression, trying to escape the traumatic past that haunts him, April is torn. To protect Jonah, she risks losing everything: family, friends, an opportunity to attend a prestigious music school. How much must she sacrifice? And will her voice be loud to drown out the dissenters—and the ones in his head?
I’ve read quite a few books this year that focus on mental illness, Your Voice Is All I Hear is one of the standouts for me. Beautifully written and emotionally resonant, I was in this all the way.
Don’t be fooled by the start – where it begins is with a fairly generic but compelling love story. April is missing her best friend, but meets Jonah who she develops a connection with. However things are about to go very wrong for Jonah and April’s loyalty will be tested to some very intense limits.
Jonah exhibits increasingly strange behaviour that has April baffled. Eventually hospitalised with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, this is where the story starts to come into its own as the author explores the difficult path faced, not only by those suffering but by those who are in their lives. In this case April is a young girl faced with some untenable choices – this is gritty and authentic, evoking an emotional response and to my mind giving a great deal of insight into this particular subject – Leah Scheier has a certain way with language that both informs and engages.
It is sometimes dificult reading – there are no punches pulled, no overly sentimental angst to glamorise the issues – this is a tough and often harsh look at the realities but also a deeply moving story of a boy on the edge and the girl who loves him. April often exhibits far more adult behaviour than those actual adults around her but this comes across as very real. The author uses the teenage condition (when we all feel things far more deeply than at any other time in our lives) to tell her story and to give added depth to the unfolding events.
If the object of this book is to inform, invoke discussion, give a spotlight to this particular illness then job done. Watching Jonah descend into chaos is heart wrenching – watching April cope as best she can, never giving up, is even more so. Quite aside from all that is the wider picture – Jonah’s parents and April’s family, the medical profession (Dr Mina is a particuarly well drawn and important character) the initial denial, heading into acceptance and at every point the author tugs on the heartstrings and makes you feel it in your bones.
The general attitude to mental illness is also explored really well here. This is a quote that stays with me and it seems with others…
“A person sick with cancer has the support of the community. Everyone bands together and tries to help. Friends organize runs for a cure and put together bake sales and blood drives. Next door neighbors bring tuna casserole to the family. There are no casseroles for Schizophrenia. People are afraid, so they keep away. The families are embarrassed, so they hide. They pretend that their son or daughter has gone abroad or is busy at school-anything to avoid telling the truth.”
Incredibly resonant, obviously well researched and very cleverly constructed for maximum effect, Your Voice Is All I Hear is both an important and very readable tale, a Young Adult novel tackling some topical and very important issues, the ending had me in pieces. This is one that will definitely stay with me for a very long time and as such is highly recommended.
Find out more here: http://www.leahscheier.com/
Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/LeahScheier
Read it. Live it.