Review: A Danger To Herself and Others
Book by: Alyssa Sheinmel
Review by: Lizzie
On Sale: Feb 5, 2019
When Hannah is admitted to a mental institution, she knows there’s been some sort of mistake. She had played no part in the accident that befell her summer program roommate. It had been just that — an accident. Ruled to be a “danger to herself and others,” Hannah is sentenced to spend her days in a seven-by-eight foot room until she can prove to her doctors that she isn’t ill and clear up the misunderstanding once and for all, so she can return to high school for her senior year.
A modern, young adult take on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Alyssa Sheinmel weaves together an intricate story that twists and turns at every opportunity. Complete with flawless storytelling and realistically flawed characters, the novel offers a sincere story about a girl struggling with a mental illness and the hope that things can get better.
This story will completely smash all expectations you had after reading the blurb and piece it all together in a way that makes triple the amount of sense. With each small detail revealed surrounding Hannah’s past or the accident, I found myself in awe of the ingenuity and true-to-life aspects of it all. Due to its small cast of characters, Hannah always takes center stage, which makes it incredibly easy to picture yourself in her shoes, feeling her emotions, and facing her struggles.
While it seemed a little slow to start off, the plot thickened after the first chapter, which I found to be very vague, but with good reason. Hannah doesn’t remember much from the accident, and she’s unhappy with her new residence at the institution, which makes for a very faint depiction of what had actually happened prior to the book’s beginning. Once Hannah settles in to her new life, facts unravel and details spill out of Hannah’s mind, leaving enough room for questions and suspense, which propels the story forward. Not only are you clambering for every last detail regarding the accident, but Hannah, too, is still piecing together exactly what happened that fateful night.
Lastly, the representation of characters with mental illness in this book was done tastefully and accurately. Sheinmel doesn’t use it as a plot device or defining characteristic; instead, she highlights that it is just an obstacle in the path, something that can be handled and adapted to in everyday life.
A Danger to Herself and Others is an excellent read that increases anticipation with every page. I’d recommend this book to anyone yearning for a bit of mystery, plot twists, and self-discovery.