Title: Highly Illogical Behaviour
Author: John Corey Whaley
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Release Date: May 26th 2016
Sixteen year old Solomon has agoraphobia. He hasn’t left his house in three years, which is fine by him. At home, he is the master of his own kingdom—even if his kingdom doesn’t extend outside of the house.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to go to a top tier psychiatry program. She’ll do anything to get in.
When Lisa finds out about Solomon’s solitary existence, she comes up with a plan sure to net her a scholarship: befriend Solomon. Treat his condition. And write a paper on her findings. To earn Solomon’s trust, Lisa begins letting him into her life, introducing him to her boyfriend Clark, and telling him her secrets. Soon, Solomon begins to open up and expand his universe. But all three teens have grown uncomfortably close, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse as well.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Three years previously, after his panic attacks and anxiety became too much for him to handle, Solomon stripped down to his underwear and jumped in the fountain at his school. Ever since then he’s locked himself away in his home, never stepping foot outside, and even though it’s helped his panic attacks it hasn’t made them go away. Solomon feels safe in his home though, he has everything he wants there and doesn’t feel the need to go outside anymore.
Lisa remembers the day that Solomon jumped in the fountain, she remembers all the things people whispered about him and the rumours that circulated around the whole school for a week, until they stopped and he was allowed to disappear from their lives. But Lisa never forgot that boy and when the essay she needs to write for admittance into the college of her dreams, the essay that will potentially give her a full scholarship and a way out of Upland, is on her personal experience with mental illness Lisa comes up with a plan to reach out to Solomon and ‘cure him’.
Lisa tracks down his mother, reaches out to Solomon through her, and before she knows it she’s become a part of Solomon’s life. However the more time she spends with him, the more she becomes his confidant and friend, trying to fix him the more she realises that maybe it isn’t as easy as she first assumed. For Lisa it quickly becomes about much more than helping someone so she can write the best essay she can but helping someone who has quickly become her friend, and helping someone in need.
Gradually Lisa introduces Clarke to Solomon and as they spend more time together Lisa starts to wonder whether their relationship with Clarke is as solid as she always assumed it was. Meanwhile Solomon is starting to take more steps to help himself move forwards. His parents are having a swimming pool dug in their back garden for him but Solomon is unsure whether he can take that step outside, even if it is just in his garden.
Solomon has packed his whole life into his home and he is content with things the way they are, his only friends are his parents and his grandmother and he has all he wants. The panic and anxiety attacks Solomon has are bad, and no one shies away from that fact, all they do is try to make things bearable for him; be it through therapy, building a swimming pool in their back garden, or just letting him stay locked away where he feels safe.
But when Lisa comes into his life he seems to realise there is more he can have, even if he is a shut in. He stands on the threshold of his doorway, watching Lisa leave with Clarke, and feels the urge to follow them. The panic attacks stop him, hold him back, but there are times when he fights through them and you can see his desire for more.
Lisa was a character I wasn’t sure I’d like before I picked up this book, however reading Highly Illogical Behaviour I found did really like her. What she did, using Solomon to write an essay on her personal experience with mental illness, was not the right way to go about things but I can’t deny that her influence in his life did help him. Lisa is desperate to get out of Upland, there is so much more in the world for her and she doesn’t want to end up stuck like her mother. She sees university as her way out and Solomon as her way to get a full ride.
The relationship between Lisa and Solomon was wonderful to read. Even though it started on false pretences on Lisa’s part it very quickly became much more than that. The two spent so much time together and as Lisa became part of Solomon’s world she also opened it up for him, proved to him that there can be more to him than his agoraphobia and the four walls of his house. Lisa and Clarke’s relationship is a little more complicated. He doesn’t agree with her about the essay, even before he ends up becoming close friends with Solomon.
Clarke is content in Upland, and even though Lisa assumes he can move with her when she goes to university Clarke isn’t sure that’s what he wants. He connects with Solomon because the two have so many shared interests, they become closer friends than Solomon and Lisa and Lisa finds herself becoming jealous of the time they spend together.
The relationship between Solomon and his parents was also brilliant. They have done everything they can for their son, and they haven’t forced him out of the house or into therapy when they’ve seen how much it hurts him. While they do want him to be able to leave the house they don’t push him into anything he’s not ready for. It obviously isn’t the way they saw their lives turning out but they clearly love Solomon and have done, and will continue to do, anything and everything they can to help him through whatever it is he faces. It was nice to see such a supportive family dynamic in this book, especially when the relationships between Lisa and her parents, and Clarke and his weren’t as solid.
The ending of Highly Illogical Behaviour is a hopeful one more than anything else, there’s no happily ever after instead it’s more of a happily for now. I would love to go back to this story in a few years time and see how things turned out for Solomon, Lisa and Clarke. However even if the author never writes more of their story I’m happy imagining what the future holds for the three of them.
What did you think of Highly Illogical Behaviour? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.