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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Freaks Like Us Blog Tour: review and giveaway

The Freaks Like Us Blog Tour is stopping by today with my review and a giveaway!

TITLE: Freaks Like Us                        AUTHOR: Susan Vaught 
PUB: Bloomsbury                                 PUB DATE: 9/4/12
SOURCE: from pub in exchange for honest review

When Jason Milwaukee’s best friend, Sunshine, disappears from the face of the earth, the whole town, including Jason, starts searching for her. But the insistent voices in Jason’s head won’t let him get to the heart of the mystery—he’s schizophrenic, and the voices make it hard to know what is real and what is not. As the chase becomes more panicked, Jason’s meds start wearing off, and he is looking more and more guilty. But of what, exactly?
Both brilliantly witty and intensely honest, this poignant novel draws upon the author’s many years as an adolescent psychologist, but it’s Vaught’s powerful voice and expertly crafted mystery that will keep the pages turning.

THREE WORDS: Surprisingly Powerful & Poignant

MY REVIEW: It's rare to come across a YA book that deals with mental illnesses in a way that is sensitive, yet startlingly honest; poignant, yet funny and entertaining, yet very real. Susan Vaught's Freaks Like Us is one of those rare books.

Jason's best friend Sunshine disappears one day after school and Jason is automatically seen as a suspect because of his unpredictable mental illness. But Jason knows that schizophrenic or not, he would never hurt Sunshine. He tries to push through all the voices in his head and get to the truth because he knows there's something important about Sunshine he can't remember. Something important about someone who may have hurt her. Uncovering this truth means uncovering memories Jason is afraid of reliving, but Sunshine means everything to him and he's willing to fight anyone, even himself, to find her.

Freaks Like Us surprised me with its humor, realness, power and poignancy. Vaught has crafted a spellbinding  and different coming of age story, and has done so with brilliancy, razor-sharp wit and authenticity.

Through Jason (who is called Freak), his ADHD friend Drip and the lovely Sunshine who is a selective mute, Vaught has given a captivating voice to a collection of people whose voices are often unheard. As a practicing psychologist, Vaught brings personal experience, knowledge and authenticy to her writing and this really shines through. Freaks Like Us is, at times, relentlessy honest and startling, but impossible to put down. I quickly read this book in one sitting as I was fully engrossed and invested in the story being told.

The story is told from Jason's point of view and as such, the story and flow reflect his complex, unpredictable and, at times, erratic mind. This flow and execution aren't always easy to sift through, but are always necessary. Vaught creates such thought-provoking realism through this execution. 

I found Jason's thought process and mind to be absolutely fascinating. He's a wonderfully endearing character full of humor, heart and courage. Despite his mental illness and struggles, I think readers will easily be able to relate to Jason and will definitely be invested in his journey. There's a large cast of supporting characters, ranging from Jason's parents to his friends to the school bullies to various police personal, but they are all compelling and well-developed. Jason and Drip's bromance is amusing, while I was deeply moved by Jason and Sunshine's sweet, very real relationship.

There's a great deal of the unexpected and surprising in this book, especially when it comes to Sunshine's disappearance. A quarter of the way through the book I was so sure I had it all figured out, and while some things are predictable, I never saw the climactic revelation coming. And the book ends realistically, but with so much hope.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: With its authenticity, laugh-out-loud humor, powerful poignancy and a lot of heart, Freaks Like Us took me to some unexpected places, captivating me from beginning to end. Susan Vaught has crafted a beautiful tale and given a truly remarkable character an unforgettable voice. 


Connect with the author: Site / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository
Susan Vaught is the author of My Big Fat Manifesto, Trigger, Exposed, and other novels, as well asOathbreaker, which she coauthored with her son, JB Redmond. She is also a practicing psychiatrist.

Win a finished copy of Freaks Like Us!
Thanks to the people at Bloomsbury I have one finished copy of Freaks Like Us to give away to one of you...
One winner will win the finished copy
Will run from 9/11 - 9/21
Must be 13+ to enter
One main entry per person
Winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
I will be sending the book to the winner and am NOT responsible for lost, damaged or stolen prizes
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Unknown said...

Awesome giveaway! This sounds like a book I would enjoy. I hope I win :D

Christina Fiorelli said...

Christina K. in the rafflecopter

I LOVE Susan Vaughn's work. They're all so real and thoughtful with great characters and plot but also very much issue books:) This one sounds awesome:)

Thank you:)

Steph said...

Great review! I love that the book deals with serious issues like mental illness but still has a lot of humor. This is definitely moving up on my TBR list! Thanks for the giveaway!!

Lindy Gomez said...

Thank you for this review. I love books that put you into the mind of the main character. To see life from a person with schizophrenia is revealing. My daughter has Autism and cannot speak. I would love to get into her head. A book like this is amazing in giving a voice to those who can't speak for themselves, and it helps the reader gain a different perspective.

Lindy Gomez

April Yedinak said...

I love reading YA and I love stories that deal with mental illness. This is one I will definitely read.

Unknown said...

I love to read about mental illness as I have a few myself. This book looks amazing! Thanks so much for the giveaway!

Jillyn said...

I rather enjoy reading books with themes of mental illness. This one intrigues me. Thanks for the giveaway!

Stacy said...

I am interesting in reading from the voice of a schizophrenic character because the media often depicts schizophrenia as just being voices in your head when it is really so much more than that. I had an uncle who was schizophrenic and it is painful to see someone go through that mental anguish.