Hey bookworms! It’s been a while since I’ve done a review and this review might be a little longer than usual but there’s so much that needs to be said. Before I start let me just warn that there are some mini spoilers. Now, it’s not like I’m spoiling key areas in the plot, more like I’m going a little bit into what’s already stated in the synopsis. And without a further ado, let’s get started.
Thank you to Netgalley for a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Title: Nick and June Were Here
Author: Shalanda Stanley
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Illness
Rating: ☆☆☆/ 5
“Nick and June were best friends for years, until their relationship suddenly turned into something more. Now, June is coping with a new diagnosis of schizophrenia, a secret she asked Nick to keep for too long. Between managing her symptoms and her parents, June is just trying to keep it together. Nick is a reluctant car thief, supporting his aunt with the money and focusing on his art whenever he can. But when June’s condition sends her to the hospital and Nick’s latest crime threatens to land him in prison, the two decide to run away. When the world is trying to tear them apart, can Nick and June find a way to stay together?
I really did want to like this book more than I did but I had a few issues with it, but before I get to that there were some good qualities to it. First off, I love the idea of a main character with a mental illness and see how authors are able to shine a light to the subject that affects thousands of people each year. I love the idea of bringing awareness to mental illnesses and that’s one of the main reasons why I requested this book. At first, was all here for June’s supportive friends, Nick and Bethany. I really loved how they tried their best to support June even when they don’t know what exactly is going on with their friend. Everyone deserves a friend like that especially if someone is going through something.
Another thing I enjoyed was the process of how June was taken care of and during her diagnosis with a psychiatrist. I liked how the psychiatrist explained to June more or less what’s going on and what her symptoms mean and how different it is from other types of schizophrenia (for example: the differences between positive and negative symptoms was explained very well). However, I do feel that overall (not just in this book specifically but throughout literature) they mainly focus on paranoid schizophrenia (delusions and hallucinations) even though that’s not the only form there is. There are 5 different subtypes of schizophrenia that are more than just delusions and hallucinations.
Moving on to the cons…
To me, it felt as if there were two different stories happening at the same time and with each point of view change I felt as if I had to shift from one story from another. I do think that both stories between Nick and June are equally important but they’re two very distinct stories that could be their own novel. I sort of expected more focus on June and her schizophrenia diagnosis.
Another issue is that it took too long to get to the main point in the plot. As mentioned in the synopsis, Nick and June ‘run away’ together (which is a whole other issue). One would probably think that this would’ve happened early on and the rest of the book was about their journey (or at least that’s what I expected). However, (and this could be a mini spoiler nut not really) they didn’t run away until about 65% of the book. It was fast paced but at the same time it was not, if that makes sense. For example, there were so many things going on in both of their lives at once, but what was described in the synopsis didn’t occur until the second half of the book.
And finally, the issue that irked me the most. (Spoiler – but is it really if it’s pretty much already mentioned in the synopsis?) When Nick comes to get June so they can run away together, June didn’t have much since she was released from the hospital and she was taking medications to help her symptoms and needed to be carefully monitored by her psychiatrist to make sure the medications were helping. June was just starting to adjust to her home life again when Nick just swooped in and took her. If there’s anything I learned from my Abnormal Psychology course (which we had an entire chapter just about Schizophrenia), it’s that individuals with schizophrenia do not handle stress well; it can trigger an episode, which is what landed June in the hospital in the first place. Yes, June had symptoms as a child, but it wasn’t until high school when she began to get more stressed out with college coming up soon that she had her major psychotic break.
Overall, I have a love/hate relationship with this book, therefore I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars. It could be improved for the better and it’s about a great topic that should be spoken about more.