“But your best is not good enough sometimes.”… “Sometimes… you have to stop trying and just let someone else try their best. In order to survive.”
Rating: 4/5 stars
When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.
August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.
I read this book in January with the Dragons & Tea Book Club and WOW this book completely annihilated my soul, especially the author’s note. Jack and August are two friends, with not the best home situations, who are literally doing the best they can. Or at least, what they think is the best they can given the circumstances.
Jack, is showing signs that his mental health is rapidly declining and has begun seeing hallucinations that make it hard to distinguish what is real and what is not. His hallucinations are fantasy-like and be believes he must take August on a quest to fulfill a prophecy. August hopes fulfilling this quest will help stop Jack’s hallucinations, and even though August is worried for his friend’s safety he is willing to do whatever Jack thinks needs to be done, regardless of whether it is safe for either of them. These boys have a deeply rooted co-dependent relationship that we see progressively become more and more toxic as we are thrown into Jack and August’s lives.
It’s hard to write a full review for this without spoiling anything, so this is definitely one of those stories you need to experience for yourself and go into without reading too much about it, but I will say a few things. First, you will FLY through this book. From the super short chapters, to the different types of formatting this story is told you, you can easily devour this book in one sitting. I had a hard time reading with the book club because I wanted so desperately to just power through this and find out what happens. Second, you will never be hit so hard with a plot twist. If you ever imagined what it would feel like to stay alive while your heart is cut out of your chest and served to others on a platter…this is it. Third, you will never root so hard for two characters to find peace and happiness. Fourth, the touch of fantasy is so unique to this story that it will further your need to finish this story ASAP.
“If you drop the weight you are carrying, it is okay. You can build yourself back up out of the pieces.”
“My mom once told me that being alone makes you feel weaker every day, even if you’re not.” he said quietly. “But it’s not as bad if you’re with other people who are alone, too. We can hold each other up like a card tower.”
“Would you do something bad if you knew it would have more good in it, in the end, than bad?”
All in all, I am so glad I joined Dragons & Tea Book Club and read this book with them, otherwise I’m not sure I would have ever found it. If you’re looking for a book with great mental health rep, a hint of magical realism, and two boys you will love with your entire heart then you need this on your TBR immediately!
Until next time,