The younger brother book to Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything, Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley is endearing and fascinating. A snapshot of Solomon’s life living with agoraphobia, Whaley focuses as much on Solomon’s life functioning indoors after an anxiety attack pushed him over the end and he became “that kid” who took off most of his clothes and went into the school’s water fountain. The debilitating mental illness keeps him inside, going to school online and entertaining himself with books and Star Trek. His parents are in tact. And now he is befriended by a former classmate, Lisa, who has an ulterior motive along with befriending Solomon.
The realistic conversations both spoken and unspoken by Solomon and Lisa along with Lisa’s boyfriend Clark, Solomon’s parents, and grandmother lend itself to an authentic exploration of agoraphobia and anxiety disorders. Solomon is content having not left the house in three years. He also realizes that he’s gay– this discovery is neither life-altering or unexpected– rather just another layer to the story. It’s juxtaposed by the insistence by all of Lisa’s friends that her boyfriend, Clark, is gay.
Readers explore the world as Solomon sees it, how his parents are reacting to it, and the friendship forged by Lisa and Clark with him. Each character has a strong voice, all with a vested interest in Solomon’s health and well-being. This can be added to the growing body of YA literature that focuses on mental health and mental illness and does it well.