Saturday, August 13, 2016

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley


Somehow I always read a book featuring a gay character during the month of July and last year it was Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe which forever completely changed my life and the author's name kept popping up in my life until finally I read that book. The same incident applies to John Corey Whaley. I have seen his other books being read by my goodreads family and the BookTube community but never bother picking up any of his books until now.

This book was hilarious, realistic, heartwarming, and sad all mixed of intense emotions. I highly recommend everyone to read it but don't be surprised by the outcome. 

We meet Solomon Reed who is a teenager suffering agoraphobia and has anxiety issues. Growing up was a difficult process and then one day he had a mental episode at school and for the last three years he has been a recluse/prisoner in his own home. His family feels awful of his situation but they realize that him simply breathing and eating is a miracle in of itself and it's become a burden for them especially since they haven't seen any improvements in his time in captivity.

Solomon is lonely boy who has cease communications with anyone that is not his family and while that may seem okay for him in actuality he's become a prisoner in his own mind and his form of escape is watching Star Trek The New Generation and read books and comics. He suffers major anxiety attacks every day and you feel awful the way he suffers these intense moments and being drain of energy for the rest of the day.

While that couldn't get any more depressing, we meet Lisa Prayton who is a junior at Upland High. Her personality is annoying because she plans every single minute of her day because free time is considered missed opportunities and she likes to be in control and manage a million things at once while her family life has gone to shambles. She remembers vividly about Solomon Reed and his infamous mental breakdown episode and hasn't heard anything about his state of being in the last three years. Then one day we discover that for weeks she has been looking up what colleges she wants to apply for which are all out-of-state because she wants to get the f@ck out of Upland, California.

She wants to attend Woodlawn University for its psychology program and in order to get a full-ride scholarship she has to write an essay on her personal experience with mental illness. She connects the dots and decides that she is going to meet Solomon Reed, become his friend, and cure his agoraphobia. Sounds simple enough right? Well it's harder than it looks and it's pretty f@cked up to enter into someone's life who has low self-esteem and make it seem that you want to be their friend when in reality they have become your little experiment.

Lisa has a boyfriend named Clark Robbins. He's an athlete and the complete opposite of her in which he has no clue what he wants to do with his life, very relaxed, and loves his suburban life of Upland. Lisa is always pushing him to think about their future and to attend a university nearby Woodlawn but that dream isn't realistic. She tells him about this essay and while it clearly pisses him off that she's using Solomon, he puts his beliefs in the back of thoughts because he believe she's going to fail. What I love about Clark's character is he's a humble teenager and sex is not on his top priority which is rare in the 21st century and relatable to my lifestyle.

Luckily Lisa made the right connections and moves and got into contact with Solomon and immediately she notices that he's not crazy, very intelligent, and has made this huge world in the confines of his home. His parents are excited he's made a new friend and room for improvement is an actual possibility for the first time in Solomon life. We learn immediately that he is gay and he's still in the closet but not for the reasons we usually believes. If he's never going to leave his house why bother telling his family if he's never going to get a boyfriend.

What seems simple at first for Lisa becomes difficult in the end as this friendship between Solomon and Clark is no longer a research project and now a healthy and beautiful friendship. I won't reveal any spoilers but I loved this book from the front cover to the last page. You really get into the mindset of these characters and I was shocked how relatable is Solomon. I had no clue what I was getting myself into when reading this book because all I wanted was the gay action and while that was not the main topic of the book, the story was entertaining and realistic.

I've realized in the past year that I dislike books that uses the 21st century as the setting in their books because most writers do not know how to use the present in the current format in their writing and it becomes distracting and out of place if I see a character mentioning Twitter, Facebook, or something ridiculous. I read to escape the craziness of my life and I do not want to read a book that reminds me of the world I live in and I have to applaud John Corey Whaley because he's the only writer that knows perfectly how to write in the present and not let it be tedious, annoying, and inappropriate.

I was shocked how he made references like Walmart and other places in his book and it didn't register in my mind until 25 pages later and that's interesting for me because it's difficult to sneak stuff past me in books. The writing was fabulous and I really felt like a part of Solomon's world even the moments of his panic attacks and I wish he was a real person because all I would want is to give him a big hug and tell him everything is going to be alright.

I can relate to all three characters mostly bits and pieces when it comes to Clark and Lisa but I would say about 80% of myself I could identify with Solomon. I do not suffer from anxiety attacks or have agoraphobia but sometimes I do not want to leave my house for days and if I do not speak to anyone and just watch Netflix or read books all day it's utterly bliss for me. It's not a healthy lifestyle but it's my escape when it comes to the drama of school and family life and in the past few years I've lost contact with many of my friends from high school and while I wish we stayed in contact I'm not going to bend head over heels to stay friends if it's not reciprocated.

Plus John Corey Whaley knows how to describe the heartbreak when a gay guy has feelings for a straight guy. Every gay guy experiences this heartbreak especially within the first few years of him coming out and I had that major episode in my middle school years and it was not a pleasant experience. The guys were utter a@@holes and even if I met someone like Clark it would still have been a devastating experience for me. I could empathize with Solomon and he reminded me a lot of my younger self and issues I had to go through especially with low self-esteem and the ugly heartbreaks. 

I laughed at the moments where Solomon was making jokes and the parts that were sad I just wanted to break down and cry but in the end I didn't because I wanted to know what happens next in the story. I wish Clark and Solomon became boyfriends or hook up but it's not realistic and Solomon is not ready for a relationship. 

One issue I had and it goes to show that this is a fictional book is the side effects don't match up to the characters description. I do not remember or the author didn't specifically wrote about it but Solomon should be a chubby guy. Yes he is tall which helps with losing weight and the anxiety attacks is a booster but if he hasn't done exercises, gotten any sunlight, and has been in his house 24/7 then he can't be skinny or muscular. Plus where is the acne? He's a teenager not getting the proper nutrients so he should have pimples and all that jazz.

One little bit of information I need to comment is the Solomon and Clark pool scene. I have never heard of straight guy tell his gay friend that it's okay to look at his package but do not touch the merchandise. Even if the straight guy is comfortable with his sexuality that's just plain weird to allow a gay guy to check you out and allow them to have sexual thoughts about your body at the very moment with your knowledge. It was a great scene and I wish I had more action between them too. A boy can only dream. 

I absolutely loved this book and how they address the mental illness and I believe it could be one of the best books of 2016! I wish I could reread this book with brand new eyes and see this beautiful friendship blossom again. Thank you John Corey Whaley for writing this epic and fantastic book.

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