Title: Get Well Soon (Anna Bloom #1)
Author: Julie Halpern
Publisher: Square Fish
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Anna Bloom is depressed—so depressed that her parents have committed her to a mental hospital with a bunch of other messed-up teens. Here, she meets a roommate with a secret (and a plastic baby), a doctor who focuses way too much on her weight, and a cute, shy boy who just might like her. But wait! Being trapped in a loony bin isn’t supposed to be about making friends, losing weight, and having a crush, is it? (Source: Goodreads)
Anna Bloom is a depressed teenager whose parents send her to a mental health facility to help her get better. They do this without talking to her about it. Anna learns to like the people at the facility and makes some new friends while she begins to deal with her own mental health problems and adjust to her medication. This is a fun book that makes some effort to remove the stigma towards mental health by showing just how normal so called “crazy” people are.
Anna is an okay character. She’s interesting though vaguely “poseur”-esque in her never ending love for punk music and punk musicians. She has an interesting voice, though at times a little annoying. I thought that many of the other people in the hospital were more interesting, including the love interest Justin who has one of the more interesting reasons for being in the hospital and also one of the darkest ones. These more dark characters make up for Anna’s lack of character for the most part.
The story is pretty similar to Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story. I loved that book, though I only liked this one. I didn’t find the characters as compelling in this book though it was still very good. I think there were a few problems with the writing which I’ll get to. I think this book was really interesting because it’s in a diary/letter format so it’s Anna commenting on everything around her, which worked really well.
My main problem with this book was that the views on mental health and psychology were a little dated and just generally bad. Anna talks about how everyone’s crazy, obviously she gets over this. But I think it still left a bit of a lasting impression of people being crazy because of characters like Lawrence and Abby. There’s also a real sense of having a dated view of psychology with a lot of Freud references and talks about Freud’s theories even though its all very dated and more of a Hollywood representation of psychology which made the whole thing seem like a joke. I really disliked this and it made getting into the book very difficult for me initially.
Other than that I think it was a really cute book. The boys were funny, most of the characters were boys, and the plot was quick and cute. I really liked it once I got into it, but I have read books about depression and mental health which were a lot better than this in terms of content about the problems. I would still recommend this, and I do look forward to reading the sequel. I will also say that Halpern’s other works, like Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, are much better.