Title: Your Voice Is All I Hear by Leah Scheier
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: A
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
“I was the one he trusted. I was the one he loved, the only one who believed him, even when his own mother had locked him up and thrown away the key. And now, I was going to pass down the white tiled hallway, knock on his doctor’s office door, slam his secret notebook on her desk and make her read it, make her understand what he was hiding, make her see what only I had seen.”
April won’t let Jonah go without a fight. He’s her boyfriend-her best friend. She’ll do anything to keep him safe. But as Jonah slips into a dark depression, trying to escape the traumatic past that haunts him, April is torn. To protect Jonah, she risks losing everything: family, friends, an opportunity to attend a prestigious music school. How much must she sacrifice? And will her voice be loud enough to drown out the dissenters-and the ones in his head?
Your Voice Is All I Hear is a powerful and thought-provoking young adult novel about the rarely discussed mental illness schizophrenia. Leah Scheier provides a gritty and insightful look into the devastating effect this disorder has on not only the patient, but also their family and friends. This unflinchingly honest depiction of the progression of symptoms and treatment is poignant and oftentimes, heartbreaking. It is a truly captivating novel that is impossible to put down and I highly recommend it to readers of all ages.
Socially awkward April Wesley is dreading the beginning of the school year now that her best (and sadly, only) friend, Kristin, has transferred to a private school. She is surprised but delighted when handsome, new student Jonah Golden befriends her on the first day of school. Despite a few uncomfortable interactions with Jonah, the two become inseparable almost immediately and their friendship soon turns romantic. April notices, but easily ignores or explains away, Jonah’s increasingly troubling behavior since his initial symptoms are somewhat vague and non-threatening. Unfortunately it is only a matter of time before Jonah descends into full blown psychosis and paranoia and his parents have no choice but to sign him into a psychiatric hospital for treatment. April stands by Jonah and dedicates herself to aiding him during his recovery but learning the full extent of his illness causes her to doubt their entire relationship.
April is such a lonely character that is easy to understand how easily she fell for Jonah. She is shy and finds it impossible to talk to people she does not know very well. She definitely struggles with her first few conversations with Jonah, but they click with one another pretty much right from the start. April is uneasy with his mood swings but since he recovers from them so quickly, she overlooks them.She is also very easily swayed and she is a little too compliant although her loyalty to Jonah is commendable. She never wavers from her commitment to him but April willingly remains in the dark about his condition until one of her teachers challenges her to begin some long overdue research into schizophrenia.
Jonah is a sweet, sensitive young man in the beginning but there are hints early on that something is not quite right. While he is fairly open and honest with April, there are some aspects of his past that are clearly off limits. His tenderness with his younger sister is touching as is his devotion to April. Despite his reluctance to talk about his early symptoms, he is aware on some level that something is drastically wrong. Unfortunately, he is embarrassed to admit some of what he is experiencing and as his condition worsens, Jonah tries to cope with his problems on his own.
Your Voice Is All I Hear is an extremely emotional story that is incredibly compelling. The storyline is well-written with an outstanding cast of fully developed, sympathetic characters. Leah Scheier’s research is phenomenal and she creatively works factual information about schizophrenia into the storyline in such a way that readers cannot help but experience the terrifying effects of this condition. The skillful use of foreshadowing makes it impossible to put down this engaging story and the novel thunders to a heartrending, but entirely realistic, conclusion.