A Danger to Herself and Others

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

A Danger to Herself and Others is a thoroughly enjoyable YA thriller about a teen girl placed in a psychiatric institution after an accident put her summer roommate in a coma. Hannah is a smart, witty character and I found her to be very sympathetic. I enjoyed the twists, the unreliable narrator, and [ the ultimately positive view of mental health providers. It is hinted that [ parental neglect might have been a factor in triggering Hannah's mental state, which is something that deserves to be talked about more in YA literature. 

I imagine that avid readers in the genre might not be surprised by the twists (I am not an avid thriller reader and I did figure some things out before the end), but while this may not be groundbreaking I thought it was well-executed. The author builds a sense of tension throughout the book and I found myself feeling very connected to Hannah and rooting for her. 

The details of what it is like inside such an institution is painted in vivid detail, not in an unrealistic or problematic way but in a way that demonstrates its departure from the wider world. Her therapist is also a great character who is fleshed out as time goes on. At the end of the book [ I was truly concerned for Hannah's continued safety give the awful parents she has.. The author does a great job of demonstrating how neglect can be abuse, and can exist even in the midst of great privilege. 

Overall, my reading experience of this was enjoyable and I think the author is doing important work with this story. I received an advance copy for review via NetGalley.
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This was a very compelling read with a great turn of pace that I really appreciated. It tells the story of Hannah Gold, a precocious teen who is institutionalised for a psychiatric evaluation following an accident involving her best friend. Hannah was such an interesting character to follow. She is manipulative, calculating and quite devious and we know that something about the way she talks about people suggests a coldness to her character that is troubling. The setting is obviously disturbing and the flashbacks to her relationships with her parents and her friends certainly raised red flags. There is a turning point about two thirds of the way through which was very well done and all in all, I thought that this was a very compelling and well written narrative.
I received a free copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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'A Danger to Herself and Others' is a compelling YA story about mental illness. 

It’s the summer before senior year, and Hannah is in California at an intensive study program. Everything is going great until Hannah’s roommate, Agnes, falls out of a second story window playing a game of Truth or Dare, and Hannah finds herself locked in a mental institution. The authorities think she made have been responsible for the accident. They say she is a danger to herself & others, but it wasn’t her fault, and she is sure once the misunderstanding is cleared up they will release her.

The story is told from Hannah’s POV; you’re in Hannah’s head and only see her realities. Because of this there were times I felt things were slightly off or not realistic, but as the story moves along and details are revealed, it starts to become clear, and I understood why things were the way they were.

Things get more interesting when Lucy, who becomes Hannah’s new BFF, is brought to the institution, and Hannah starts focusing on Lucy's problems. Lucy is a ballerina and has an eating disorder. There is an important audition she needs to get to, but she's stuck in the institution. Hannah wants to help Lucy, and it won't hurt if the doctor sees what a good friend Hannah can be, right?

I really enjoyed 'A Danger to Herself and Others!' It was fascinating to see how Hannah perceives her situation. The mind is an interesting creature, indeed!
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Representation, representation, representation.
It's really difficult to write a spoiler free review of this book, so rather than focus on the story elements I'm going to focus on my thoughts and feelings as a reader.
First, could it be any creepier? I love the unreliable narrator aspect - and I've rarely seen it executed this well. Hannah is very easy for me to connect and sympathize with. She has a lot of anxiety and coping mechanisms in place throughout the book that honestly seem pretty reasonable. Counting steps? Sure. Not hurting anyone by counting steps. I think that's why I was so blown away by the book. We see everything through Hannah's perspective and she's a worthy narrator.
The masterful storytelling is something that has me really excited to share "A Danger to Herself and Others" with my readers. April Henry fans will devour this book. Heck, I would read it again! (And I'm known for NOT re-reading books.) It's suspenseful, nothing comes out of left field without justification, and just...beautiful. Beautifully written. 
Finally, that ending... I wanted to pull Hannah to me and hug her myself. Her parents were so distant and aloof that I could barely stand it. The author doesn't cave to my need to know Hannah is going to be alright. She lets it dangle in front of me without succumbing to the trend to put a pretty bow on every ending - especially when dealing with mental illness. I am thrilled that this book is in my library's collection and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Most of the story is a compelling mixture of Girl in Pieces, Monday's Not Coming, and Justine Larbalestier's Liar, pushed forward by a fiercely unreliable narrator. While the later chapters are less settled in a way that's slightly uncomfortable, they do reflect a more realistic portrayal of mental illness, which is nearly always requires long term and perhaps indefinite treatment. (I do wonder at the portrayal of mental illness in general: the author's note references some unrealistic aspects of treatment, the entire premise of Hannah's crime plays uncomfortably into the trope of mental illness as significantly dangerous to others, and the consistent references to "Hannah's illness" or "Hannah's diagnosis" rather than actually naming a specific condition seemed a strange evasion. I found myself asking if it had been reviewed by medical professionals and sensitivity readers.) I did find Hannah's parents quite well-drawn, and their relationship added a fascinating element, especially as the background and Hannah's thoughts about them develop.

An interesting new addition, which might appeal to fans of My Sister Rosa.
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This book is addicting! I was hooked from the very first page.
Love the unreliable narrator, and how it keeps you guessing the whole time, just too turn into something way deeper than you expected.
The mental health rep is great, and I love how it was handled. And the ending is heartbreaking.
I give it five stars! Full review linked below
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This book was great. Hannah is stuck in an institution after her roommate, Agnes, falls out a window. Hannah knows this is a mistake and bids her time to prove them, especially her therapist Lightfoot, she is not ill. While there she gets a new roommate, Lucy, who helps her in some very unexpected ways. This book had just the right pace, not too slow and not too fast. The setting could have become slow and boring very fast but didnt. An institution were the same things happen every day at the same time but because Hannah is such an interesting character I didn't get bored. If you like unreliable narrators this one is definitely for you. This is not a who-done-it book but rather a book where you spend most of the time picking out the truth from the lies. I enjoyed this book a lot but the reason it did not get 5 stars from me was because of the anticlimactic ending. It wasn't something I would remember but that does not mean it wasnt a great book. I couldn't get enough of it while reading but I didnt keep thinking about it once I was done with it. 

The writing made this book even better. It was simple and personal. We really got to know Hannah. She was arrogant and witty, having full confidence in herself.  As the book goes on all those things that make Hannah her begin to waver. She goes down a path of self-discovery that sheds a light on many of her actions. 

There aren't many characters other than Hannah and a few side characters. Hannah is the one person we spend our time with, just like she only has herself in that tiny room. Agnes is only ever mentioned and her parents don't appear until the end. That leaves us with Lucy and Lightfoot, the two people Hannah spends most of her time with. Lucy was Hannah's escape route. If she could only show Lightfoot how much of a caring friend she was, she would be able to get out. It was very interesting to see how Hannah approaches a friendship. I do wish we could have seen more memories or interactions with all her other friends. Lightfoot was the constant in Hannah's life in the institute and we get to see her become to care for Hannah. Something her cold parents know nothing about. None of these characters are ever fully developed which made me not care for any of these characters. This was a book solely based on Hannah and her thoughts. 

This was a great story about mental illness and coming to the realization of it. I enjoyed this book immensely and if you do decide to give this a try I hope you do too.
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A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel is a very well written book about an extremely intelligent girl, Hannah, who happens to have a mental illness. This mental illness may have caused Hannah to harm her friend and that is what lands her in a mental hospital while she awaits trial.

Hannah is extremely smart. As soon as you start the book you can tell she has a very obsessive nature when it comes to her studies. Instead of enjoying her summer doing normal teen activities she is at a summer school program at a college. At this program, she is given a roommate and they become be friends... Or do they? Hannah's roommate ends up in the hospital after taking a pretty nasty fall and Hannah finds herself in a mental hospital labeled as A DANGER TO HERSELF AND OTHERS.

While Hannah is in the hospital she goes through a lot of stuff:
Gaining and losing a friend, Lucy. 
Being told that she has a mental illness. 
Her trying to come to terms with this. 
And worst of all, Hannah watches her parents become distant. They start treating her differently and her mother even starts to pull away entirely. This book hits so many nerves but only because the things the author writes about are so true

You know a book is good when it makes you question your own sanity, right?

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.
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Loved this book! I can definitely see the comparison to We We’re Liars and I completely agree. This book was a very interesting discussion on mental illness without ever pointing out only one illness. Really enjoyed this book.
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I absolutely loved this book. From the first page we are taken in by Hannah, a 17 year old girl who has been placed in a mental institution after her role in an accident that left her best friend, Agnes, in a coma. Despite the fact that Hannah shows herself to be arrogant, spoiled, and manipulative right from the beginning, she still manages to be a likable character. Alyssa Sheinmel nails the "unreliable narrator" in this novel. Seeing the story unfold from Hannah's perspective gives the reader a somewhat skewed version of the story and I found myself drawn in by her, sympathizing with her, appreciating her intelligence, and ultimately, feeling her pain as the reality of the situation reveals itself. 

I want to take a moment to thank the author for writing about mental illness in such an intelligent and thoughtful way. This is a subject that is often avoided or misrepresented and the author does a wonderful job of humanizing mental illness, as well as revealing the stigma that comes with it, even from those who love those affected by it. I liked the fact that every bad thing Hannah has ever done was not linked to her illness. Her personality is all the more complex when you consider what role her parents and upbringing had in developing it, long before her illness takes over. 

Overall, an outstanding read. Once you start, you won't be able to put it down. Happy reading!

**Special thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Published to BN.com and Amazon.com on 2/5/19
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From the very first page I was hooked. The story had a very great mystery too it with an unreliable narrator at the forfeit t and it gave a mental Illness rep.
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A Danger to Herself and Others is a Young Adult fiction novel about Hannah, a young teen who is institutionalized for something that happened over summer school.  As Hannah comes to grips with her current situation and what happened over the summer, she discovers things about herself that leave her struggling right until the very end of the novel.
This novel brings up many issues within mental illness.  As it does not always paint an accurate picture of mental illness, treatment, and medication, I feel it should be read carefully by vulnerable young people.  Otherwise, very well done and an enjoyable read. 

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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This book was so good. I totally enjoyed it. It surprised me. It hit me in the feels. A Danger to Herself and Others tells the story of a girl in an institution. The story is told from our main characters perspective. She is totally an unreliable narrator, and we learn things as she learns them. She doesn’t always believe the things she’s being told. As the reader, I almost don’t believe the things she’s being told.
Hannah is complex and fascinating. At first, she’s arrogant and goes on and on about how she was the perfect kid and she’s so good at everything. But as the story progresses, she learns that her life is not what she’s always thought it was. It really brought her down a peg or two. The realizations she’s learned about herself really made it so I was able to sympathize with her. The world is taken out from under her feet and I totally felt for her. By the end of the story I really liked her.
Overall, A Danger to Herself and Others was a wild ride. Everything I thought I knew in the beginning was challenged and I felt like I didn’t know anything by the end, which is exactly how Hannah felt. I really enjoyed this. Thanks to NetGalley for providing this eARC for me to read and review. I will definitely be buying this when it’s released.
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Title: A Danger to Herself and Others
Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Genre: Teen/YA/Contemporary
Rating: ★★★★(4/5)

A Danger to Herself and Others is a psychological thriller that truly delves into the mind. In the book, the main character is institutionalized for suspicion of being involved in an accident involving her roommate. Despite this clear synopsis, you learn quickly not to take anything for granted as the reader.

It is a story told solely in the point-of-view of Hannah Gold, a confident and intelligent narrator. She has a very distinct voice that is one of the sole drivers of the story. But, as the tale unfolds, you start to see this strong character type unravel with every new page. 

The author has a talent for making you question even the most basic "facts" in a way I've rarely experienced. The twist isn't a typical kind and is rather one that is baffling when you've spent so long in the narrator's head. The books formatting of parts is the perfect way to deliver the narrative. 

There is an overuse of parenthesis that can, and sometimes does, break up the flow of the story. I did notice some small inconsistencies like how early in the book it states Hannah's roommate's younger sister came along when she was two years old but later it changes, "You were an only child for four years before your little sister came along."

The author is a master at internalized thoughts and brings to life the age old conflict of man vs. self. She artfully gives small batches of information that manage the balance of not overloading the reader and instead compelling them to want to read more. 

This author's language has a way of transporting you into the seemingly bland setting that comes to life in her capable hands. She manages to write the dynamics inside the facility well and in a way that prevents the story from seeming to drag on without a lot of external conflict.

Overall it's a very character based novel and less action-packed than competitors, but I would argue that is what makes it so good. You get to focus on the emotions and feelings of this character and completely immerse yourself in her world - no matter how twisting, turning, and unreliable it may be.
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"Hannah Gold doesn’t belong in a place like this. Hannah Gold wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Okay, I have to say it, if you’re going to describe a book as “Girl, Interrupted” meets “We Were Liars”… You really need to bring it. Those are both very dark stories and to be a combination of the two, you really need to take a chance and just go for it. Mess with our heads. And I just feel like this story is far too safe for that description. And that’s not to say I didn’t like it. I did. I just thought there could be more. 

After a tragic accident this summer leaves her roommate critically injured, Hannah finds herself institutionalized. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn't a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.

“I smile again, this time for real. It was so easy when I was five, to manipulate my parents’ friends into being ashamed of their own children, into thinking I was so much better.”

Hannah is DIABOLICAL. I found her to be very interesting and as someone who really enjoys dialogue WAY more than inner monologues, I still found her POV to be very engaging. I loved how Hannah seems like your ordinary overachiever, but you can sense something is not quite right.

“Luckily, I know how to become someone’s best friend. It’s a skill I’ve honed since kindergarten.”

And her parents are garbage. Honestly, THAT was one of the more tragic parts. 

I really liked the beginning. It is so strong and so well paced. The beginning is a beautiful slow burn, with little crumbs of the truth peppered throughout, just enough detail to know something is not quite right, but not enough to really guess what’s going on. It was so truly amazing. 

The second half felt way too rushed. The beginning is so wonderful, but then it’s like the author was told you have to keep this to x number of pages and she realized she used too much time already and to fit in the rest it’s going to have to be shoe-horned in.

Overall, I liked this story. I liked the characters and the plot. I liked the way the author was able to slowly show something just isn’t quite right without being too apparent, just seeds of doubt.. I thought the ending was too rushed but with an extra 50 – 100 pages (there is that much that could have been really delved into), the story could have gone from a 3 star to a 4 star for me. 

Thank you to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Fire for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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A Danger to Herself and Other by Alyssa Sheinmel

Hannah is an intelligent and mature young lady, but is also a little bit unlikeable. She can seem a bit arrogant at times and often thinks of herself as better than others (although she recognizes her perceived superiority and tries to actively hide it from others so they aren’t uncomfortable around her). 

Hannah may or may not have done something to her roommate Agnes that caused her serious injury. As a result Hannah is placed in an institution for evaluation. This book tells the story of Hannah’s time in the institution as well as explaining her backstory, particularly the period of time leading up to Agnes’ accident.

Hannah really has no good idea why she is in an institution for evaluation. She knows she isn’t crazy. Being the intelligent young woman she is, Hannah thinks about a psychology experiment in the early 1970s that she read about where some psychologists were able to get themselves admitted to a mental hospital after claiming they were hearing voices. Once they are admitted and diagnosed with a mental illness, the psychologist “patients” tell their therapists that they are not actually insane and begin to act completely normally. But, no matter what they do, their behavior on the “inside” is always viewed via the lens of mental illness. The “patients” were admitted into the institution so they must be crazy, right?  Hannah believes this exact same situation is now happening to her. So her focus is to prove she is completely fine and that this is all a big mistake. 

Hannah was a well-written unreliable narrator. As we discover Hannah’s story through her thoughts, her discussions with Lucy (her roommate at the institution), and her therapy sessions with Dr. Lightfoot, we are lead down a path of wrong turns and rabbit holes. However, the reader will begin to realize what is going on at exactly the same moment that Hannah does. It is almost as if the reader is going through the therapy with her.  

I don’t feel like I should say too much more about this book. Based on the title and the myriad other reviews available for this book it is clear that Hannah has some issues, but the reader should discover those issues for themselves, not via my review. However, I will mention a few other things I really liked about the book. I was impressed with Hannah’s doctor. While Hannah did not respect her much (particularly in the beginning) it was clear that Dr. Lightfoot really did want to help Hannah. I thought the emphasis on the benefits of quality therapy and medication (or combinations thereof) as well as the focus on self-realization (Hannah finally understanding herself what was going on vs. simply being told) was well done.

POSSIBLE SPOILER – DO NOT READ THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON’T WANT A SPOILER. I also loved how Hannah actually noticed several things throughout the book that gave her clues to her own mental state, but she always rationalized them away. For example, Hannah thought it was odd that Lucy was always in the room when she had therapy sessions with Dr. Lightfoot. Hannah just believed that Dr. Lightfoot had no respect for confidentiality. Hannah couldn’t understand why Lucy returned to the institution after she escaped for her audition, but she accepted Lucy’s explanation that it was just easier to come back. Hannah also wondered why Jonah (a recent boyfriend) never gave her his phone number, but she rationalized that they just lived a few doors from each other and they didn’t need phone numbers, right? So many clues to what was going on that Hannah herself actually noticed, but didn’t pay attention to. That is why it is a mental illness I guess. Some brains work entirely differently than others and Hannah’s brain allowed her to experience the world she needed to experience. END POSSIBLE SPOILER!

Ultimately this is a book about mental illness, mental health and accepting who you are. The ending was a bit sad, and I kind of wish her parents weren’t depicted the way they were; however, that doesn’t really detract from the story. I can’t say it was an enjoyable read – hard to enjoy someone struggling with mental illness – but it was a well-written story that is worth reading.

Thank you Netgalley and Sourebooks Fire for a free electronic ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel ⭐⭐⭐💫⠀
• genre: young adult contemporary thriller⠀
Hannah Gold is an intelligent, driven, 17-year old upcoming senior from New York City who has always been treated like an adult by her wealthy parents. Determined to improve her college applications, she is spending her summer in a study program in California. During a game of Truth or Dare her friend and roommate, Agnes, falls from a window and ends up in a coma. Hannah finds herself locked in a room at a treatment facility where she is being evaluated to determine if she is 'a danger to herself and others'. Hannah is sure this is a misunderstanding and she will be released in time for her to make it back to New York for the first day of school. After all, it was just an accident. ⠀
I found this story to be incredibly readable, and it kept me engaged in Hannah's story as she tells about her interactions with the doctors and other patients at the facility, her boyfriend Jonah, and her relationships with her parents and her friends growing up. Through Hannah's unreliable narration we find out that there is more to the story of how and why she is being held at this high-security institution. It is clear that something is wrong, and this page-turner leads us, along with Hannah, on a fast-paced journey to discover the answers. ⠀
*content warning* There is discussion of mental illness, anorexia, bulimia, and a short description of someone trying to hurt themselves. ⠀
This title is being published Feb 5, and I do recommend it for readers who enjoy young adult mystery, quick-read thrillers, and unreliable narrators. I received an eARC of this book through NetGalley. ⠀
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This book was not what I expected, I expected more of a thriller/twisty novel and while this had some of that it was not the sole attributes. I saw many of the twists as they happened so it was a little formulaic but the ending was really well done.
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Thank you so much to Sourcebooks Fire Publishing for providing me with a Digital Readers Copy, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. The quotes included in this review are subject to change upon publication.

A Danger to Herself and Others is about a 17-year-old girl, Hannah Gold, who is admitted into a mental hospital on a court order after an incident occurs with her and her roommate Agnes Smith at their summer school. As we learn more about Hannah, we start to discover that her information may not be reliable and slowly start to see her mental health deteriorate. 

“Funny thing about lies. When someone doesn’t believe you, you feel like you have the moral high ground. How dare they accuse you of lying?”

Alyssa creates this point of view strictly through Hannah’s eyes and mind. In the beginning Hannah is portrayed as this strong, confident girl that was wrongly accused of being involved in an unfortunate incident with her best friend Agnes. As the story goes deeper into Hannah’s mind, I started to question Hannah’s sanity. While being questioned by Dr. Charan, also known as Dr. Lightfoot, we start to see inconsistencies in Hannah’s stories versus the information Dr. Lightfoot has obtained. We start to see Hannah’s mental health decline, and experience her struggle as she begins to realize what is happening to her.

“Everything we think and feel, every habit and movement, every personality trait and quirk: It’s all a result of our brains. Maybe it’s nature, maybe it’s nurture–but whoever we are, we are because of our brains are what they are.”

Hannah’s story was an interesting read but I did not love the style of writing. The book is a slow burn all the way through, and I kept waiting for something huge to happen, yet when Hannah begins to piece together what is happening to her, that is a slow burn process as well. What I did gather from this story is, there are many steps that she goes through in her realization of having a mental illness, and repeats those steps quite often throughout. If you are a fan of stories such as, Girl Interrupted, I think that you will enjoy this story.
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Hanna Gold is in a mental institution. But she isn’t supposed to be there, obviously. There was an accident during an innocent game of Truth or Dare with her roommate. The doctors will figure it out soon enough..
I couldn’t put this book down - I had to keep reading to find out why the MC was  a danger to herself and others . And we definitely find out. In a skillfully done and authentic way. While this story is a page-turner, it was also an interesting portrayal of mental illness. It was smartly done and engaging. Recommended.
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