Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Highly Illogical Behaviour - John Corey Whaley

I really enjoyed Highly Illogical behaviour. It’s a YA that deals with mental illness alongside friendship and sexuality. It didn’t delve deeply into the aforementioned subjects, but was still satisfyingly respectful of them.


The books central character is Solomon, a teenage boy who suffers from agoraphobia. The reason for his agoraphobia is never defined. Instead we’re told that he jumped in a fountain outside his school a few years previously when he had some sort of a breakdown. This is when his agoraphobia took hold and as such he never returned to school. When we meet him he’s home-schooled, although the logistics of this weren’t made clear. There were only some vague assertions made about internet-based homework.


Soon after meeting Solomon we meet Lisa. Lisa has dreams of leaving her home town in America behind and being admitted to a university based psychology programme which has only one scholarship available. In order to obtain this scholarship she has to submit an essay regarding her personal experience with mental illness. She witnessed the incident where Solomon jumped into the school fountain and has always remembered it and has the idea of becoming friends with him in order to therapize him and thereby coax him back into the world. Pretty convoluted, huh? It actually didn’t feel that way when I was reading it, but now as I’m relating it back it does. It gets even odder when the way in which Lisa will become friends with Solomon is explained. I was playing with the idea of relating it here, but I’m not even going to bother! All you need to know is Lisa does end up forming a friendship with Solomon, as does her boyfriend, Clark, who she ropes into spending time with him.


If this doesn’t sound complex enough, there’s yet more layers added to the mix. You see, Lisa suspects her boyfriend of being gay. Considering Solomon has just come out himself, you can probably tell what happens.


You’re probably thinking it sounds like Lisa is a manic-pixie-dream girl. I thought that at the beginning too, but she’s not. She’s really just a friend to Solomon. Obviously she doesn’t tell Sol that the reason she sought him out in the first place is to write a paper on his recovery journey, so in this way she’s keeping secrets from him from the outset.


What I really enjoyed about this book was how authentic the character’s felt. Regardless of the convoluted way they all came together, everything about them felt authentic. Their dialogue, idiosyncrasies and interactions all felt so real. As did their flaws and ‘issues.’


I think the novel would have been stronger if the author had stuck to one issue and expanded on it instead of focusing briefly on a few. Sol’s character would have been richer had we been privy to the reasons behind his acrophobia. I loved the characters though and will read the author in future just for them.