Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf

The Symptoms of my Insanity
by Mindy Raf
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 18, 2013
384 pages
Source: ARC from Penguin

(from Goodreads)
When you’re a hypochondriac, there are a million different things that could be wrong with you, but for Izzy, focusing on what could be wrong might be keeping her from dealing with what’s really wrong.

I almost raised my hand, but what would I say? “Mr. Bayer, may I please be excused? I’m not totally positive, but I think I might have cancer.” No way. Then everyone at school would know, and they would treat me differently, and I would be known as “Izzy, that poor girl who diagnosed herself with breast cancer during biology.”

But Izzy’s sense of humor can only get her so far when suddenly her best friend appears to have undergone a personality transplant, her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, and her beautiful maybe-boyfriend is going all hot and cold. Izzy thinks she’s preparing for the worst-case scenario, but when the worst-case scenario actually hits, it’s a different story altogether—and there’s no tidy list of symptoms to help her through the insanity.

My Thoughts

Straight up - I loved this book. Mindy Raf has given us an extremely entertaining and enlightening story about how one girl deals with the pressures and anxiety of high-school, home life, and maybe a little hypochondria.

It's safe to say that Izzy is very developed, physically, for her age and everyone has an opinion about it - her mother, her sister, her friends, her friend's mother, and too many boys at school. While this seems like a small part of the story, it plays a major role in who Izzy is. She's always self-aware, analyzing, critiquing, and trying to please everyone around her - all while trying to fit in, succeed in school, and be a good daughter. 
I loved that Izzy wasn't portrayed as the artsy social misfit outcast who no one understands. She has an evolving group of friends who give and take, and friendships that shift and change, as most friendships do during this time of life. I think that Mindi Raf captured this aspect of high school friendships and relationships really well.

The story is filled with a cast of characters. There is the eccentric guidance counselor, the drama-queen sister, the hot (maybe bad boy) love interest, the boy next door, the new best friend, the old best friend, and the sick, but she's not dying, mother. When listed out like that, it seems a little cliche, but all belong in the story, because they each played a role in Izzy's growth as a character.

Raf tackles a lot in this book: family illness, changing friendships, failed relationships, betrayal, jealousy, academic pressure, peer pressure, and a scandal I hoped I didn't see coming (but I did). And while it may seem like too much for one book and for one girl to deal with, I think that she (Raf) pulls it off.

Disclaimer: I received this Advanced Readers Copy for review from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I did not receive any compensation for providing this review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. Oh this sounds like an excellent book! I will check this one out.

  2. This actually sounds like a book that could be really helpful for tons of kids. I'm still surprised by how much anxiety I find in some of my students, even really extreme cases. Thanks for putting this on my radar!

    1. I do think it would be a helpful book. Some reviewers think that the author put the main character through too much, but for some kids it is a reality - they have to deal with so much.

  3. I like the way you covered the issues in the book without giving any spoilers.I truly hate spoilers. Thank you for a great review.

  4. Oh, so that's what it's about! You know anything that looks like a book about mental illness is going to grab me! This one came and went right on the shelf I was so busy during that time. I'm going to pull it out and read it. Sounds like a lot for one little book, but I trust your judgement that it was done right. I do tend to be a bit more sensitive about mental illness than most, though:) I'll let you know what I think!


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