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 30-something high school English teacher who lives with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband and their son. Rachel is a voracious reader who loves to learn and has her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. She’s happiest listening to podcasts and talking to friends about the latest news in nerd culture.
Favourite book: Don’t make me choose between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter
Favourite brunch spot: The Farmer’s Table