Many thanks to Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley for an opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review!
Okay, I’m just gonna put this disclaimer right out here at the start of my review. Mental illness is one of my favorite topics to read about — both fiction and nonfiction. I’m fairly knowledgeable about mental illnesses, thanks to three things: getting my Bachelor’s in psychology, my Master’s in social work, and (perhaps most importantly) personal experience.
Because of this, I can tell when there is misinformation in books about mental illness and that is the #1 thing that will make me either stop reading the book entirely and/or give it a poor rating.
However, Your Voice is All I Hear was an absolute joy to read.
Don’t get me wrong — this book was very hard to read at some points. This is a novel that deals with some very tough topics, from coping with bullying, to homophobia, to grappling with mortality. And of course, how “swiftly” a mental illness can strike, and how much of a devastating impact it can have on families and friends. As kind of a side plot, there was also some family of origin struggles. So yes — many “big” topics were tackled, and they were all carried off with grace and clarity.
Ms. Scheier did an utterly amazing job, though, portraying what life is like for people who have schizophrenia. I do not personally have schizophrenia, but I have friends who do, and what Ms. Scheier wrote about Jonah experiencing was pretty much exactly what my friends with schizophrenia have shared. Additionally, the psych ward that Jonah was taken to was portrayed very fairly, in my opinion. Psych wards are not necessarily the terrifying places that films make them out to be. But they are definitely one of a kind places, and I feel like that was captured in this novel.
Another aspect of Jonah’s descent into madness — so to speak — that was realistic and well-written was how April described the loss of who Jonah was. He turned into an entirely different person. Not dangerous (except to himself), but very, very different from the sweet, artistic, yet intense boy that she fell in love with.
And another aspect that I know to be very honest and realistic is how people — even his parents — viewed Jonah after seeing him at his worst. They thought he was dangerous, a lunatic, not safe around his younger sister, etc. This is something that mass media tends to pick up on — as with all of the tragedies that have happened in recent years (from school shootings to airplane crashes), people who suffer with mental illness are portrayed as deranged killers. No matter what their diagnosis actually is. No matter if they’re more of a danger to themselves than they would ever be to anyone else.
I really felt bad at the end of the book regarding Jonah’s decision, but I think also that although I would’ve loved a happy ending, Jonah’s decision was really very mature and wise. I really did like the fact that April ended the novel on a hopeful note though.
Definitely recommend this one to pretty much anyone with any interest in contemporary YA and mental illness and related “tough” topics. It’s a fast read and it’s engaging. I’m also going to be keeping Ms. Scheier on my radar for future books