Insanely Sane
by Jasmine Shouse
Motina Books

"Something in me broke, and I shook with the sobs and tears that I’d been battling and bottling for what felt like forever."

Each of the teens at the Pleasant Valley Treatment Center has a desperate story of struggling with a range of mental health issues. Some have attempted suicide or experienced suicide ideation. Others practice self-harm or are spiraling into substance abuse that impacts every facet of their young lives. Their experiences are intense as they share in therapy and with each other the chain of events that have brought them to the treatment center. As the staff works to diagnose each of them and help them find ways to cope and heal, their lives unfurl in new and unexpected ways. The immense weight of guilt and the stabbing finger of blame are constant companions for the teens on their road to recovery. But as they journey on, they also find the warmth of companionship and the comfort of compassion.

Shouse deftly captures the minds and hearts of teenagers coping with a world intent on breaking them from the inside out. With empathy and realism, the author gives a voice to adolescent suffering and hope for weary-hearted teens in the throes of mental anguish. The therapy sessions at the treatment center showcase the power of unburdening the self and the hard work of treatment and recovery. These sessions are compelling as the life of each teenager comes into focus. They are each fully realized characters with depth and darkness but also shimmering with the bright light of hope, which ignites, in part, because of the friendships and bonds that form between the teens. The alternating perspectives provide a rich exploration of adolescence as Shouse covers so many complex issues facing teens. This honest portrayal is a moving tribute to resilience and overflows with feeling and respect for people who have experienced trauma, are reeling from it, but are also seeking support and solutions.

A 2023 Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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