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Monday, September 3, 2012

Freaks Like Us, by Susan Vaught

When Jason Milwaukee's best friend Sunshine vanishes, Jason knows that something is terribly wrong, but solving her disappearance will require pushing through all the voices in his head and then getting the world to listen to him. His schizophrenia is stopping him from remembering the events leading up to her disappearance, and often he discounts his own memories, and his own impressions. But his deep knowledge that he would never hurt his friend, plus the faith of his parents and a few others in the town bring him to the point of solving the mystery. In the end, it's Sunshine's own love for Jason (Freak) that persuades him of his own strength and goodness.

It's not very often that you get to peak inside the mind of an "alphabet"--as Jason and his friends call themselves. Alphabets are kids who are described in letters--ADHD, ED, LD, for example. It made me sad, as a teacher, to read that description. "Alphabet." That's worse than the proverbial being a "number."

In Freaks Like Us, we're reminded that people who are alphabets are people first. This story is fast-paced, intense. The final copy information says it'll be 240 pages, but it doesn't read that way. I'd hand this easily to a reluctant reader or someone looking for a quick read. Both will appreciate the intensity and the story

Jason has a rather severe mental disorder, and reading the story in his words can be a little challenging. Because it's not just his words at times. Sometimes it's the voices in his head and it's all a jumbled mess.'s realistic. It's a tough, emotionally investing and a little mentally draining read. Clearly, I lot of time went into crafting Jason's voice. And it is very well done. It probably doesn't hurt that Vaught is a practicing neuropsychologist.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Bloomsbury Children's Books through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

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