“If I’m not responsible for my words and actions, then I’m nothing. No free will, no self.”
Rating: 4/5 stars
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Thank you Sourcebooks Fire for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape…
Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there’s been a mistake. She didn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn’t a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side.
Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.
tw: eating disorders, mentions of suicide
Just a heads up, this review is going to be on the shorter side because there is A LOT that I can’t talk about without spoiling the story!
Holy unreliable narrators!
There is nothing that I love more in a story than an unreliable narrator, and Sheinmel has created one of the best ones yet. *queue all the We Were Liars vibes* Hannah was such a compelling and complex character that I devoured this book in one sitting. Which is easy to do considering reading this is like unraveling your favorite piece of candy from it’s wrapper. A Danger to Herself and Others is a powerful story about mental health that will have you second guessing yourself up until the very last page.
I knew that I was really going to enjoy this book the moment Hannah told us she was lying about something she had said earlier in the book. Her sentence of “I was lying earlier” set the entire pace of the story and you instantly know this girl is not to be trusted. I couldn’t read this fast enough to try and determine what was the truth and what was a product of Hannah’s mental illness. I was extremely empathetic towards Hannah and her parents neglect towards her, but at the same time Hannah isn’t necessarily a lovable character and I think that worked so well to the advantage of the author’s story.
I did find some of the bigger plot twists to be rather predictable, but it still didn’t take too much enjoyment away from the story. Ever since I read We Were Liars I’ve always been extremely skeptical around unreliable narrators and continually question what is real and what is not. So, I think me figuring out the plot twists is mainly due to how much I tend to overthink the plot of a book with an unreliable narrator. I also enjoyed the open ended-ness of the book and loved that this makes you think about the stigma that comes with mental illnesses. The author handled the topic in a professional and thought provoking way. The only thing I would have maybe liked to see a tiny more of was Agnes being involved in the story. The parts with Agnes’ hearing were very brief and think could have added just a touch more to the story.
“Reset. Like I’m an appliance that needs tinkering, a frozen laptop that needs to be rebooted. I don’t think Ctrl + Alt + Delete is going to cut it here.”
“The orderlies don’t understand that a pill can be more invasive that a shot. Taking the pill implies that it’s your choice. Willingness to swallow what they hand you suggests that you agree with them: There’s something wrong with you; you need to take your medicine. If they force a shot on you, at least you’re taking a stand.”
Overall, this is great psychological rollercoaster that I think will appeal to many readers. I loved how dark and mysterious this story got at times. And I will definitely be looking into reading more of the author’s books in the future!
Until next time,