Published by Dial Books on May 20, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.
After hearing great things about John Corey Whaley’s work, I was interested to pick up Highly Illogical Behavior very soon after its release. This young adult contemporary follows a teenager named Solomon who has agoraphobia, and hasn’t left his home in three years. One of his old classmates, Lisa, decides that she is going to “fix” Solomon for her college admissions project. We follow these teens as they become friends, and discover whether Lisa will be able to solve Solomon’s problems all on her own.
I was unfortunately left a bit underwhelmed by Highly Illogical Behavior. It took me a long time to get through this short book because I found it difficult getting immersed into the story. By the end, I did become attached to the characters, and I was overall pleased with the book. However, there are many things about this book that I find quite problematic.
First, Lisa’s character really bothered me. She is a know-it-all who thinks she has the capacity to be giving a fellow teenager mental health advice. I would like to say that she had good intentions, but Lisa is a huge liar and I feel like she never learns her lesson. I don’t think Lisa is necessarily a bad person, but all of her poor choices made her very unlikable for me. I can see how her character is purposefully written to be flawed, but I did not see Lisa truly grow even after sabotaging the people she is supposed to care for the most.
Moreover, Highly Illogical Behavior seemed very derivative of other books in the young adult genre. For example, I saw a lot of parallels between this story and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. In the same way, this book includes one of my least favorite tropes in young adult literature, which is the absent parents. Lisa and her boyfriend Clark spent a lot of time away from home at Solomon’s house. They stay nearly all hours of the day, and their parents never bat an eyelash as to where they are. I find it difficult to believe that any parent of a teenager, especially the ones depicted here, would let their child stay out until 1:00-2:00am without even touching base. The inclusion of this trope in Highly Illogical Behavior took away from the story’s credibility for me.
My final critique of this book is the ending. I did like the big event that takes place as the book comes to a close, but there are a lot of loose ends that did not get tied up for the reader. I wrote down a list of questions that I had after finishing the book, and I think an epilogue could have easily answered them.
Nonetheless, I really appreciate how Highly Illogical Behavior is #OwnVoices representation for mental illness, specifically agoraphobia. It was very helpful to see what Solomon goes through on a daily basis from his perspective and through the eyes of other characters. I thought it was great that Whaley includes both positive and negative receptions of Solomon’s mental health, as that portrays how he would be treated in the real world. Highly Illogical Behavior is also an #OwnVoices LGBTQIA+ novel, as Solomon is gay and Whaley is, too.
Overall, Highly Illogical Behavior is a good story that has an important place in the young adult world. While I did find a lot of issues with it, I also do recommend reading it. If the plot sounds interesting to you, read a few more reviews and see if you would get more enjoyment out of this novel than I did.
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