Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton (304 pages)
“Words On Bathroom Walls” Deals With Mental Illness Like A Breath Of Fresh Air
As a YA enthusiast, I come across many books dealing with mental illness. Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton feels like a breath of fresh air with its endearing characters and relatively positive portrayal of paranoid schizophrenia.
Told through journal entries, this story follows Adam, a high school student recently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. With the help of a (fictional) trial medication, Adam can distinguish between his hallucinations and reality. The journal entries, written to his therapist, allow readers into Adam’s mind in a way that gives us access to his successes and struggles in a meaningful way.
Having recently transferred schools, Adam is determined to keep his condition a secret from those around him. Because the trial drug works pretty well, Adam is largely able to hide his schizophrenia. This, however, comes at a cost. Not only is Adam constantly nervous about his peers discovering his secret, he must also start lying by omission to Maya, Adam’s love interest.
A Touching Story
Having read many YA titles dealing with mental illness, including schizophrenia, I found Words on Bathroom Walls to have a much more positive outlook than other works. Often in media, audiences are meant to see characters with schizophrenia as unstable, unpredictable, and violent. Adam is a caring young man that is uncommonly kind to those around him. His relationship with Maya is also one of the most realistic portrayals of a high school relationship that I’ve come across. Although Adam is lying to Maya about his condition, readers can clearly see a level of affection and respect between these two that is rare
The Bottom Line: 5/5 Brookie Stars
I was truly impressed by the humanity and authenticity in this novel. I was particularly struck by the relationship between Adam and Maya, which I found to be more genuine than most other fictional relationships. I also had quite a hard time trying not to cry while reading this on a plane. Words on Bathroom Walls is a must for any reader looking for light in a sometimes dark world.
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Rachel Gomes is a 20-something high school English teacher who lives with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband and their two cats and two dogs. Rachel is a voracious reader who loves to learn and is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.
Favourite book: Don’t make me choose between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter
Favourite brunch spot: The Farmer’s Table