Review: Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern
Get Well Soon
by Julie Halpern
Genre: contemporary, realistic fiction
Topics: mental hospital, friendship
Publication date: October 2, 2007
Publisher: Square Fish (Macmillan)
Pages: 193 (paperback), 208 (hardback)
SYNOPSIS: 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?
This book was nothing like I expected it to be. I thought that I was going to read a book about mental illness, which is a topic that I enjoy reading about (because I’m struggling with it myself), but it turned out to be just another one of those ‘Girl is ‘depressed’ and goes to a mental hospital but oh hey, life is actually kind of great’-books, which is just not realistic to me at all. I’ve been to a treatment centre for depression multiple times, and it was nothing like what I read in this book.
If you’re really depressed, it doesn’t get better as soon as it did in Get Well Soon.
Written in the form of a letter to her best friend Tracy, Anna Bloom describes what it’s like for her in the mental hospital, which she lovingly nicknames ‘Lake Shit’. When Anna arrives at the treatment centre, she stays in the hallway because she isn’t allowed a room, has to wear baggy pyjamas with no bra, and has to be escorted to the bathroom at all times.
As her stay goes on, she meets fellow mental patients, makes new friends with the other teens in her group, and discovers that life isn’t all that bad.
Although I didn’t think the depression part was realistic, Anna’s voice certainly was. It perfectly described the mind of a teenager stuck in the loony bin. Honestly―I would know.
I’m still not sure if I liked Anna or not, but I guess she was an okay character. Sometimes she just really pissed me off. The other characters were really great though! Especially Matt O. and Justin. Even the rest of her group were all good characters. They all had their own story and their own personality, but Halpern didn’t get too involved in their life stories, which was a good thing because they were side characters.
Overall, it was an enjoyable read, but nothing special.
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)
MY FAVOURITE PART:
For ‘play therapy’ they have to set up the rest of the group as furniture and other objects, and play their favourite activity.
Justin’s safe place was, as expected, very cool. He set us up as his 1989 maroon four-door Volvo that his uncle Barney, a mechanic, fixed up for him. Victor was the obnoxious horn, which he took the liberty of demonstrating every time the room seemed just a little too quiet. Sandy and Morgan were the brake lights. Colby was a bumper sticker that said “Fight Racism,” and I was his stereo. Each time he pretended to turn me on (ah, who’s pretending?), I blared a little piece of a Doors song. He laughed, changed the station, and I sang a different song. “When you’re strange…” Turn turn. “Come on baby, light my fire…” Turn turn. “Love me two times, baby…” He kept me on this channel, and I struggled to remember the words. I tried to use my best, sexy singing voice. As Justin sat in a chair in front of me and I stood, his radio, I felt so in control. My voice has never been a thing I hated about myself, and I could tell Justin wasn’t hating it at all. He even joined in and sang with me! I stopped singing for a second to hear his voice, and then he said, embarrassed, “I always sing along when I’m alone in my car.”
"Youre not really alone, though," I pointed out.
He blushed a little and bit his lip. “I guess not.”
And then, “HOOOONK!!!”
"Thanks, Victor," Justin said, smiling through gritted teeth.
"Just getting you back for the popcorn comment." Everyone laughed.
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