Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Mild sexual themes
Booklist (March 1, 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 13))
Grades 9-12. After a panic attack in eighth grade, during which he stripped to his underwear and plopped himself in the school fountain, Solomon hasn’t left his house. Ever. Lisa never forgot that day, however, and when she sets out to write a college essay on her personal experience with mental illness, she believes (ethics be damned) curing Solomon will be the perfect, scholarship-worthy topic. Enlisting the help of her boyfriend, Clark, Lisa inserts herself into Solomon’s world, building a friendship while covertly observing him. But as she gets to know Solomon better, especially as he develops a crush on Clark, she realizes how her ulterior motives could threaten his progress. Printz Award–winning Whaley (Where Things Come Back, 2011) alternates between Lisa’s and Solomon’s perspectives, and in their witty, bantering conversations, he teases out a sensitive examination of friendship and mental illness. Solomon, after all, is far more than his anxiety, and intelligent Lisa is nearly blinded by her own certainty. With plenty of geekery, charming repartee, and fairly realistic teen drama, this will have wide appeal among readers of contemporary fiction.
Kirkus Reviews starred (February 15, 2016)
A teen with her sights set on a scholarship for a psychology undergraduate program befriends a boy with agoraphobia in order to write an essay about the experience in this novel from Printz Medal winner Whaley. Sixteen-year-old Solomon last left his house back in seventh grade, when, one day during a particularly horrible anxiety attack, he shed his clothing and climbed into a fountain at school. His former classmate Lisa, ambitious to a fault (“You’re like Lady Macbeth without the murder” says her boyfriend, Clark), has long wondered what became of him and angles her way into his life. She begins to visit Solomon daily and is surprised at how funny and easygoing he is, eventually bringing into the fold a reluctant Clark, who quickly bonds with him. In part because Solomon has earlier come out as gay to her, this eventually piques Lisa’s jealousy and sets the stage for a heartbreaking clash among the three. Chapters alternate between Sol’s and Lisa’s third-person narrations and brim over with warm, witty, authentic dialogue. Solomon’s descriptions of his anxiety are achingly real, and the adoration his family has for him, even as they fear he will never leave the house in their white, wealthy suburban neighborhood again, is poignant. Readers will easily come to care about these bright, wonderfully nerdy, flawed characters. (Fiction. 14 & up)
About the Author
John Corey Whaley grew up in the small town of Springhill, Louisiana, where he learned to be sarcastic and to tell stories. He has a B.A. in English from Louisiana Tech University, as well as an M.A in Secondary English Education. He started writing stories about aliens and underwater civilizations when he was around ten or eleven, but now writes realistic YA fiction (which sometimes includes zombies…). He taught public school for five years and spent much of that time daydreaming about being a full-time writer…and dodging his students’ crafty projectiles. He is terrible at most sports, but is an occasional kayaker and bongo player. He is obsessed with movies, music, and traveling to new places. He is an incredibly picky eater and has never been punched in the face, though he has come quite close. One time, when he was a kid, he had a curse put on him by a strange woman in the arcade section of a Wal-Mart. His favorite word is defenestration. His favorite color is green. His favorite smell is books. He currently splits his time between Louisiana and Los Angeles.
His website is www.johncoreywhaley.com.
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