A Danger to Herself and Others

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

A riveting read that grabbed me from the beginning. I loved the character of Hannah Gold and that the entire story was told from her perspective it. I didn't see the twists coming. The author told this story with compassion and it was nice to read the author's note at the end. I would love to read more books by this author!
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Review posted on Goodreads and on The Nerd Daily (closer to publication day).

Alyssa B. Sheinmel’s latest book, A Danger to Herself and Others, is a young adult dark contemporary book about mental health, about people’s prejudices, but also about gradually learning to accept yourself as you are.

Hannah Gold has been wrongly accused of hurting her best friend from summer camp and sent to a mental health institute to be diagnosed, even if she’s sure she shouldn’t be there with real patients.

"Of course, the other patients are here because there’s actually something wrong with them. I’m only here because of a misunderstanding, so there’s no need for me to panic."

However the reader knows something’s up from the first chapters of this novel. Hannah is in fact an unreliable narrator, and the book is told exclusively from her perspective. That’s why reading A Danger to Herself and Others was interesting, entertaining, and a challenge in itself.

"I gaze out the window. […] There are redwood trees as far as I can see, and when the fog gets thick, it condenseson the needlelike leaves and drips onto the roof. It sounds like rain, but it isn’t. 
It’s not true that I can only see a few plants from here. We’re actually in the middle of a forest.
I was lying before."

This book has an excellent mental health representation. The main character spends almost all her days inside a single room and has daily meetings with her therapist. This way the reader gets to really understand how Hannah’s head works and why she has certain goals in her life. At the beginning she can even come out as a creepy character, for example when she seems determined to make new best friends with every girl who has something in common with her.

She is also calculative, determined to obtain what she wants, and she is not scared to use other people in the process. This is why the institute assigning her a roommate, Lucy, seems like a bad decision. However, her friendship with Lucy is going to end up influencing Hannah’s recovery in unexpected ways.

The represented mental illness is finally seen with different eyes in this book. A Danger to Herself and Others: there’s a reason behind the title and you’ll be reminded about it quite a lot (maybe too many times), but in the end it’s there to explain you that people with mental illnesses are not “crazy” or “not normal”. Their brains just work in different ways, and it’s not because of that that we should treat them differently and have prejudices against them. 
Ignorant people are scared of what people with mental illnesses could do to them, but it turns out they are more a danger to themselves and they are confused about what they should feel. As a result, they should be loved more than ever.

"But can you really call it sanity when it isn’t real, it isn’t natural, it’s chemically induced? When it doesn’t technically belong to me because I wouldn’t have it without the pills they keep giving me?
Maybe I’ll never know for certain what’s real, what’s madness, what’s the medication."

All the characters shine in this book. All of them have their round personality and goals. I particularly found Hannah’s closeminded parents to be very unlikeable and vexing, but that’s why they stood out so much.
I also enjoyed the writing style a lot, as it was quick and simple, but not too much. It really showed Hannah’s personality.

The plot was the weakest part of this novel, instead. While the mental illness representation and the acceptance process were really well done, the rest wasn’t as exciting. The reader is left with Hannah’s thoughts for the entirety of the book, and only a few major plot points happen. Sometimes she wanders a bit too much with her thoughts when there’s no reason to be given that information. This can lead the reader to feel bored, even if the writing style never lets you put the book down. The “mystery” also wasn’t exactly a mystery as it was advertised.

In conclusion, this book is highly recommended to people who are tired of seeing mental illnesses romanticized and want to see good YA representation instead.

"That’s just my imagination, not a hallucination.
That’s okay."


Thank you to The Nerd Daily, Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for this ARC.
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Hannah is locked up, Four walls, one window, one door but no way out. She is " A Danger to Herself and Others" , has been deemed so by a doctor , and must stay in the institution until she is evaluated and has an opportunity to explain herself in court. She knows she doesn't belong here, it was all an accident, a mistake, her roommate fell, that's all., and once she convinces the therapist, and the judge, she'll be able to go back to her real life, surviving her senior year in high school and preparing for college. Isolated and angry, she is not at all welcoming to Lucy, the new girl who shares her room at the institution, but soon she is using her charm and persuasive skills to make a new best friend, one who may be able to help her get what she wants- her freedom.
This is an excellent contemporary YA book, with great, if unlikeable characters, especially the narrator Hannah, who is the definition of an unreliable narrator, ready to spin every story to her own advantage , determined to make everyone like her, and completely unwilling to take responsibility for anything . The claustrophobic setting really adds to the feeling of tension and isolation that permeates the book, almost all of the story takes place within the institution, with some flashbacks to the events that led to Hannah ending up there , and the author does an incredible job of portraying how trapped Hannah feels, almost to the point that I started to feel a little uncomfortable while reading. It's very difficult to say much more without spoiling the book , and it would be a shame to do that, as it is easily one of the best books I have read in quite some time. It's powerful, tense, surprising, uncomfortable and at times heartbreaking ,and I cannot recommend it highly enough. 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher,all opinions are my own.
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ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

"I suppose your name is the first thing that ever really belongs to you, but when you think about it, it's not yours at all. Your parents chose it."

What would you do if the most important thing in your world - your brain, your mind, your intelligence - suddenly came into question? That's what happens when Hannah is sent to an institution for observation after an unfortunate accident with her summer program roommate, Agnes. At first glance, Hannah seems like the perfect high school junior: perfect grades, well-rounded, lots of best friends. She's looking forward to starting her senior year and applying to the top colleges in the country. And when she's taken to the institution, she isn't worried. She knows this is all just some huge misunderstanding. After all, why would she hurt her own best friend?

"Of course, the other patients are here because there’s actually something wrong with them. I’m only here because of a misunderstanding, so there’s no need for me to panic."

As the story continues, it becomes clear that there are definitely some inconsistencies in Hannah's stories. This book is told from Hannah's POV, so the reader is privy to all of her internal monologues. It becomes obvious that Hannah is a very unreliable narrator, and a lot of her reasoning raises some red flags. When Hannah gets a roommate, Lucy, she decides to prove that she couldn't have hurt Agnes by showing what a great best friend she is to Lucy.

"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. It's still so easy."

Unfortunately, this situation isn't one that Hannah can manipulate her way out of, and as her story continues, the reader gets to discover the truth right along with her. When everything else is taken from her - her choices, her books, all of her best friends - will Hannah be able to deal with what's left behind: the truth?

I ended up giving this book 3.5 stars overall. The writing was unique and intriguing, and I loved the little bits of mystery that were left along the way. While it's marketed as a YA contemporary, it almost reads like a YA mystery some of the time, which I really enjoyed! I also LOVED Lucy, Hannah's roommate at the institution. She was hands-down my favorite character, and I wish we could have had more of her!

Unfortunately, I am just not a huge fan of the "unreliable narrator" trope, so Hannah and I got off on the wrong foot right away. Not to mention, she's also just not... likable? I admire how determined and driven she is, but she's also manipulative to everyone around her and at times cruel. However, the author did a GREAT job at portraying Hannah's story. I really felt for her as she learned more and more about herself, and struggled with the truth of her situation. The writing really put me in her shoes, and I could see how terrified and distraught I would be if I were her.

I also felt like not a lot happened. Since the story takes place mostly in Hannah's thoughts and in the institution, the plot isn't all that exciting. I saw the one twist coming miles away, so that was a little disappointing. HOWEVER, this was a super quick and entertaining read, and I enjoyed the process!

It also touched on something that I felt was so so important. While I can't speak to how accurately the author portrayed mental illness and an experience in an institution, she did touch a lot on choices, and how it feels to have simple, daily choices taken away. For example: Hannah no longer gets to choose who she talks to, or when. She doesn't get to choose if she can take a shower, or take a pill. Coming from a life where she's made all of her own choices from a very young age, this is such a culture shock, and I can't imagine how that must feel. The author also did a great job at getting to the root of Hannah's internal struggle: what makes up a person? What makes you, YOU? Is it your brain? And what happens when you can't trust your own mind? What does "normal" mean anyway?

"The orderlies don't understand that a pill can be more invasive than a shot. Taking the pill implies that it's your choice. Willingness to swallow what they hand you suggests that you agree with them: There's something wrong with you; you need to take your medicine. If they force a shot on you, at least you're taking a stand. At least they haven't made you believe there's something wrong with you."

While I definitely had some issues with this book, it was an entertaining, although very dark, read. I really felt for Hannah, and was rooting for her throughout the book. If you like unreliable narrators with a couple of good plot twists thrown in, this is a book for you!

"Maybe I'll never know for certain what's real, what's madness, what's the medication."

A Danger To Herself and Others is releasing on February 5, 2019.

*All quotes taken from an ARC and are subject to change prior to publication.
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I’ve read a few books on mental illness which take place in a mental institution. This was an interesting book in some ways, but it fell a bit flat in too many other ways. The concept was interesting, but more could have been done to make the story hit the mark.

The reader is in Hannah’s head as the story unfolds. She’s deemed an unreliable narrator, so you question things along the way. Due to the format of the book, I expected to be more engaged than I was. I wanted a bit more suspense, drama … something. Many of the characters, such as the doctor, came across as totally incompetent or clueless, which could give the wrong image of mental hospitals and those who work in the field.  The ending felt unresolved, which was a bit frustrating.

Trigger warnings: eating disorder, suicide attempt

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.
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I struggled with my thoughts about this book. The book itself left me feeling uncomfortable, and somewhat angry. In a good, way. This is an outstanding debut and really gets under your skin. 

The fast-paced plot will keep you reading, and I actually finished this one pretty quickly. Once I started I had a difficult time putting the book down. The main character is not like-able, even before we realize the full story. She is arrogant; narcissistic. In short, difficult to feel empathy for. I thought this would be a typical girl-in-hospital-learns-about-herself-and-improves-herself book. 

However, this book was anything but typical. By the end of the book, Hannah has certainly learned about herself. But has she improved herself? This is more difficult to know. I think, for me, the jury is still out.
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My first book about mental illness and set in a mental hospital and I gotta say this was definitely unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

Hannah is a very unreliable narrator. At first you don’t realize that there’s something wrong with her and you start doubting your own (in)sanity because she seems so normal, until about halfway through, things in her story start falling apart and the reasons for her being institutionalized start making sense. We’re in Hannah’s head the entire time and really go through the process of realizing that she is sick, and coming to terms with it, more or less.

Though I did find the topic and the setting very interesting, I was kind of bored reading this. Not a lot happened during the story aside from Hannah going through the days, and I felt like they could’ve done a lot more with it. I personally expected more intrigue and suspense, but it was nice to have an inside look of Hannah’s mind. The title of the book is mentioned a lot, to the point of becoming a bit repetitive.

This would be a good book for you if you’re interested in the mental aspect of mental illness, or don’t know much about it like me.
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I want to thank Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review


This is a very GOOD book, although I expected to read it a lot, I admit I went into it with few expectations and managed to pleasantly surprise me. I think the book in general is very deep, powerful, addictive and has a mysterious and even a dark touch that makes it very compelling . I’m so grateful to have read it before its release date because now I can recommend it non stop!

The book follows Hannah’s point of view, she has been hospitalized in a mental institute after the doubtful accident that brought her best friend to a coma. Hannah is sure that there’s a mistake and that she shouldn’t be there, but as her parents have taught her, she’s determined to maintain a flawless behavior and use her persuasion skills, until everything is cleared up, and and so prove to the doctor that she’s not what they call “a danger to herself and others”, to finally return home. But one day Lucy arrives as her roommate and little by little Hannah realizes that Lucy is the only one who can help her face the dangerous games and secrets that took her there in the first place 

Before continuing, I must mention some Trigger Warning: for suicide attempt and eating disorder, among others. 

I think that in order to explain well A Danger to Herself and Others I would say that it’s a contemporary story focused on a mental illness. 80% of the book is developed with our main character in confinement, she’s hospitalized in a mental institution so we go through her days there, but all this within her own mind. It was very interesting for me to be able to explore Hannah’s mind, that’s what makes of this book something so compelling and real. Besides discovering things about her, we ‘ll also meet other characters with their own stories and affliction.
The most interesting thing, is the subtle way that this book has to show you a mental illness, I think it’s taken from a very real perspective and I really like how you can tie things together that will lead you to understand things that seem inexplicable at first. It’s a very smart and complex plot, that get more and more interesting as you advance through the story.


I really love the writing style, it’s very clear and extremely addictive , although took me a long time to read it, (which had nothing to do with the book itself but with which I’ve been very busy), it’s a very fast and easy to read book. With saying that if I had time I would have devoured this book in one day, it’s so addictive.

I love the main character, Hannah is the kind of characters I love to see in mystery and suspense movies. She’s very hateful at the beginning of the book, I was like “Who does she think she is?”, But then ends up liking her. There’s so much we don’t know at the beginning and that’s wonderful, now that I see it, it’s so smartly told. Returning to Hannah, she’s a bit egocentric and a little disrespectful at first, but she’s also very smart and it shows. She’s so proud of her life and of her “perfect” millionaire parents and doesn’t stop repeating how mature she has always been and how proud her parents are of her for being such a mature girl from such a young age. Andthis facade of her being that perfect girl isn’t really true. And at first you’ll not see it because it’s very well done, as I said, but then you’ll begin to see patterns in her behaviors, some impulses or obcessions, and you’ll begin to open your eyes to many truths and possibilities of who Hannah is

I can’t honestly talk much about this book without spoilers or revelations, it’s one of the most difficult reviews, because anything I say could be a spoiler, so I’ll try to be careful. But keep in mind that there’s much more about this book that I can’t tell you, but I recommend that you find out, because it’s worth it


Now that I’m thinking a lot about the book, I think it’s quite serious too, it touches topics, as I said, quite delicate and takes you through many emotions along with the characters, and although in the beginning there are some things that seem inexplicable or little bit unrealistic at the end when you have a more complete perspective, then you understand better and everything makes sense. It was very hard to read at times, since it’s a book that has mental illness as a central point. It’s frightening what the human mind can do. It was incredible, very intense and informative

To finish I can recommend this book with total security, if you would like a quick but very deep and shocking reading at the same time, then you should give it a try, on the other hand I’m not sure to put this book in the mystery category as such, but I would qualify it as a contemporary about mental illnesses, engaging and very suspenseful. I also recommend it if you’re looking for a unlikeable character, you’ll love this one
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Seventeen-year-old Hannah is institutionalized after her roommate at a summer program ends up in the hospital. The only person who knows what really happened is Hannah and according to her it's all just a big misunderstanding. She doesn't belong institutionalized; besides she's got better things to do with her senior year approaching and college applications looming.

When Hannah gets a new roommate, Lucy, and she hatches a new plan to get what she wants everything begins to slip out from under her self assured feet.


At first glance Hannah is a spoiled, manipulative, perfectionist. She's a perfect student, daughter and friend. She is calculating, dishonest, paranoid and clearly in denial. Hannah is an unreliable and unlikable a narrator, as unlikable as I've read from a main character. Everything is a game and she knows exactly who to be to make people like her, friends and family included. She is in control.

Painstaking detail and time go into show casing her worst qualities. That is why when her mask finally starts to slip and you find yourself beginning to sympathize with her, it is so much more powerful and shocking. The intensity with which you begin to feel for her and how complex she becomes as a character is so well done.

It does seem a slow build up at first. Hannah is bored, she's stuck in a small room, her thoughts drag, and she can be very grating. It does make the read difficult. But the wait is worth it.

You then see Hannah as vulnerable, uncertain, hurt, even selfless. Confused about relationships, about who she is, confused about everything. Hannah is not in control, she's mentally ill and though it is clear she is from the beginning, it is not until halfway through the book you see the depth and brevity of it all. Her own important realization is a sickening gut punch. The portrayal of her symptoms and experience raw and realistic.

At the end you are left with the weight of her sadness and the difficulty of her circumstances. It's not all resolved or neat. It's a step into a life long journey for Hannah. One in which she will continue to struggle.


The highlights –

The slow revelation to the reader of Hannah’s complexity as a character.

Realistic and personal way in which it’s written and paced making some of the later moments in the book all the more hard hitting.

A promising but dark and unresolved ending.


I have received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


- 4/5 While not totally original or surprising, A Danger To Herself And Others is a devastating journey to go through with Hannah, and that impact is really what stays with you long after you put down the book.
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*3.5* 

This book had such a great mental health rep! I personally don't know much about Hannah's mental illnesses, but it was so interesting to read about her experiences. In most cases with young adult contemporaries that deal with mental illness, which is a very important and sensitive topic, authors often make the mistake of romanticizing the illness; which in reality is very unrealistic. Sheinmel also definitely got the point across by referring to the title various times throughout the book (like, a crazy amount of times?) yet it worked with the story and was able to get across that people with mental illnesses are really just like everyone else and they shouldn't be referred to as crazy, etc. 

From the very start of the book, we can tell that we have a very unstable and unreliable character and it made for a really interesting read. Getting a look into her mind and seeing that she truly believed these specific things were reality really added to the buildup of her character. Overall, all of the characters were pretty enjoyable and well-rounded. While in the beginning, I was a bit unsure of Dr. Charan and her methods, I later began to really enjoy her character and came to love the relationship she created with Hannah; I truly believe she wanted to help Hannah and get her back on the right track. Hannah's parents are a totally different story. I found myself becoming very annoyed with them, especially near the end for the fact that they never really supported Hannah being different. We never really got any resolution from this either and the end fell a little flat in this aspect. 

The one thing that fell a bit flat was the plot itself. We spend the majority of the book in Hannah's thoughts, and not a whole lot happens for a good chunk of the book. Every other aspect of this book was very enjoyable. Overall, this book was immersive, enjoyable, and quick. 

Thank you to SourceBooks and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC.
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Unfortunately this book didn't work for me at all!

I was SO excited about it because most reviews said it's a good mental health rep, and mental health is a very dear topic to me. 

However, I'm a plot reader and 40% into the book absolutely nothing had happened.

Hannah is institutionalized because something that happened to her best friend who is in a coma in a hospital. But she doesn't know exactly what happened. She is the typical unreliable narrator so I brace myself for a mystery and slow plot development, where Hannah slowly discovers/accepts what happened. 

The issue for me is that there wasn't much story or character arc either. Neither the story nor the character were changing in any way. Most of the 40% of the book was internalization about the place where she is now and about her life before she was institutionalized. I really didn't learn anything about Hannah that got me invested in the story.

BUT, clearly many readers did, so I'd recommend that if you like YA contemporary about mental health, you give it a try
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Hanna is institutionalized after her roommate Agnes falls two stories from a window. She thinks it is all a big misunderstanding. All she needs to do is convince her doctor and the staff that she does not belong there. Readers are told what happened from Hanna's perspective but Hanna's account does not add up. A Danger to Herself and Others mostly takes place in a mental institution where Hanna the narrator is being treated. The narration could get quite disorienting as you are never quite sure whether things happened the way we are told. For most of the book there are only two other characters Agnes interacts with regularly, her psychiatrist, Dr. Priya Charan, who she refers to as "Dr. Lightfoot," and her roommate Lucy. With the bulk of the narrative taking place in one location with a narrator with little sense of reality, things get claustrophobic at times. This book has two additional parts but both seems rushed. While Hanna's mind is fascinating, the story could use some grounding in the real world.

This is a supplemental purchase for libraries where books like It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini and In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner are popular. For other libraries I would not recommend.
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This was interesting.Although I didn't like the nd in the beginning,I definitely empathize with her as the novel went on. A definitely twisty thriller.
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There is nothing that I love more in a story than an unreliable narrator, and Sheinmel has created one of the best ones yet. Hannah was such a compelling and complex character that I devoured this book in one sitting. I knew that I was really going to enjoy this book the moment Hannah told us she was lying about something she had said earlier in the book and I couldn't read this fast enough to try and determine what was the truth and what was a product of Hannah's mental illness. Hannah, was also not the most likable character but I was extremely empathetic towards her and her parents neglect towards her, and I think that that really worked to the advantage of the author's story. 

I did find some of the bigger plot twists to be rather predictable, but it still didn't take too much enjoyment away from the story. Ever since I read We Were Liars I've always been extremely skeptical around unreliable narrators and continually question what is real and what is not. So, I think me figuring out the plot twists is mainly due to how much I often overthink the plot of a book. I also enjoyed the open ended-ness of the book and loved that this makes you think about the stigma that comes with mental illnesses, the author handled the topic in a professional and thought provoking way. 

Overall, this is great psychological rollercoaster that I think will appeal to many readers!
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I have a soft spot for books that discuss mental illness. I guess it could be a way of seeing myself in a book, or getting an insight into what others may be experiencing. It makes me feel less alone and I find the topic fascinating.

Sheinmal does not disappoint with this intense look at mental illness. Her main character Hannah is a top student, a model daughter and she doesn't deserve to be institutionalised over a simple accident, but her lawyer disagrees. Hannah decides not to waste her time and uses this as an opportunity to befriend Lucy and show the doctors, lawyers and judge, just how wrong they are about her. She would never have hurt her friend. She is the perfect friend, how could anyone think differently?

Hannah is the perfect unreliable narrator, she makes that clear from the outset. 6% in and she tells you that outright.
"It's not true that I can only see a few plants from here. We're actually in the middle of a forest.
I was lying before."

This book drew me in quickly and had me completely invested in Hannah's life within a couple of pages. She is complex and fascinating. Because it's from her point of view, we never get other people's versions of Hannah, so we have to kind of just take her at her word. And it's hard to take someone at their word when they have hurt their friend.
Hannah starts out brash, confident and annoying. She is so sure of herself, that watching that façade crumble around her is heartbreaking. She becomes so vulnerable and unsure of herself that you just want to hold her tight and tell her it will all be ok. It's an emotional ride that was able to surprise me throughout.

I don't want to discuss the plot more as it will give away too much. I think part of the emotional investment in books like these comes from not knowing where they are heading.
I can tell you that the writing was superb and i feel like the author really did her research. The way she describes Hannah's symptoms and behaviours is realistic and honest. I liked that she didn't shy away from the ugly parts of Hannah's personality and illness. Hannah requires a great deal of your empathy and understanding, which can be hard for some as she isn't exactly the nicest girl.

My only problem with this book is that I wanted more, I wanted to know what happened next. I get why the author left it like this, I think anything more would have cheapened it, but it would be great if she could pop me an email to tell me how Hannah's relationship with her parents is going?

Overall this is a fantastic, emotional, contemporary read. I highly recommend.
I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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[Review to be published February 4th on The Nerd Daily]

Alyssa Sheinmel’s latest book, A Danger to Herself and Others, is a young adult dark contemporary book about mental health and people’s prejudices, but also about gradually learning to accept yourself as you are.

Hannah Gold has been wrongly accused of hurting her best friend from summer camp and sent to a mental health institute to be diagnosed, even if she’s sure she shouldn’t be there with real patients.

"Of course, the other patients are here because there’s actually something wrong with them. I’m only here because of a misunderstanding, so there’s no need for me to panic."

However the reader knows something’s up from the first chapters of this novel. Hannah is in fact an unreliable narrator, and the book is told exclusively from her perspective. That’s why reading A Danger to Herself and Others was interesting, entertaining, and a challenge in itself.

"I gaze out the window. […] There are redwood trees as far as I can see, and when the fog gets thick, it condenses on the needlelike leaves and drips onto the roof. It sounds like rain, but it isn’t. It’s not true that I can only see a few plants from here. We’re actually in the middle of a forest. I was lying before."

This book has an excellent mental health representation. The main character spends almost all her days inside a single room and has daily meetings with her therapist. This way the reader gets to really understand how Hannah’s head works and why she has certain goals in her life. At the beginning she can even come out as a creepy character, for example when she seems determined to make new best friends with every girl who has something in common with her.

She is also calculative, determined to obtain what she wants, and she is not scared to use other people in the process. This is why the institute assigning her a roommate, Lucy, seems like a bad decision. However, her friendship with Lucy is going to end up influencing Hannah’s recovery in unexpected ways.

The represented mental illness is finally seen with different eyes in this book. A Danger to Herself and Others: there’s a reason behind the title and you’ll be reminded about it quite a lot (maybe too many times), but in the end it’s there to explain you that people with mental illnesses are not “crazy” or “not normal”. Their brains just work in different ways, and it’s not because of that that we should treat them differently and have prejudices against them. Ignorant people are scared of what people with mental illnesses could do to them, but it turns out they are more a danger to themselves and they are confused about what they should feel. As a result, they should be loved more than ever.

"But can you really call it sanity when it isn’t real, it isn’t natural, it’s chemically induced? When it doesn’t technically belong to me because I wouldn’t have it without the pills they keep giving me? Maybe I’ll never know for certain what’s real, what’s madness, what’s the medication."

All the characters shine in this book. All of them have their rounded personality and goals. I particularly found Hannah’s closeminded parents to be very unlikable and vexing, but that’s why they stood out so much.

I also enjoyed the writing style a lot, as it was quick and simple, but not too much. It really showed Hannah’s personality.

The plot was perhaps the weakest part of this novel. While the mental illness representation and the acceptance process were really well done, the rest wasn’t as exciting. The reader is left with Hannah’s thoughts for the entirety of the book, and only a few major plot points happen. Sometimes she wanders a bit too much with her thoughts when there’s no reason to be given that information. This can lead the reader to feel bored, even if the writing style never lets you put the book down. The “mystery” also wasn’t exactly a mystery as it was advertised.

In conclusion, this book is highly recommended to people who are tired of seeing mental illnesses romanticised and want to see good YA representation instead.

"That’s just my imagination, not a hallucination. That’s okay."
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This is a gripping, well-written novel about mental illness. Based on the synopsis, you can tell there will be an unreliable narrator (which is an understatement!). She's a straight A student, the perfect daughter, and is at a summer program to get ahead for college when her roommate, Agnes, falls out a window. Her parents are out vacationing in Europe and the family lawyer doesn't have much experience, but they're content with leaving her there, so she decides to stick it out.

The representation of mental illness and mental illness institutions were very good. They weren't positive, but they were real. The mental illness is also rarer to find in YA, so it was interesting to read about.

Overall, I really liked the book. I couldn't put it down because it was that good. I also really liked the writing because it went perfectly with the content. The main character, Hannah, was also really intriguing. She seems very sure of herself in the beginning, but as the book goes on everything begins to unravel (just like her). I highly recommend that everyone pick this book up!
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Hannah is an unreliable narrator with a story to tell.  We are given glimpses of truth through a reality that may or may not be real, through the eyes of the self-assured girl who believes for all the world that she does not belong in the institution she has found herself in.  Very readable and intriguing from the start.
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A Danger to Herself and Others is a YA novel that deals with mental illness and coming to terms with a diagnosis. The book is part mystery, part thriller and is a compelling and fast read.  I recommend it and I plan to read Sheinmel’s previous books. A Danger to Herself and Others grabbed me with the very first sentence: 

“When I first got here - when they brought me here - a man with blue pants and a matching shirt, both of which looked like they were made out of paper, asked me questions.”

We soon learn that our protagonist is Hannah Gold, a 17 year old high school student is in a mental institution after her roommate Agnes is in a terrible accident and she is a suspect.  Hannah keeps reminding herself and the reader that it is exactly that — an accident.  She wholeheartedly believes that her “imprisonment” is a huge mistake and is determined to correct it and get back to school.

A Danger to Herself and Others keeps the reader guessing and it’s not clear what’s real and what’s not. Is Hannah a reliable narrator? I was intrigued by Hannah’s description of the hospital’s setting the end of chapter 1 and the end of chapter 2, which led me to suspect that she is an unreliable narrator:

“I stand on my tiptoes to look out my small window and wait for the few plants and trees I can see to dry out and die.” (end of ch.1)

“It’s not true that I can only see a few plants from here. We’re actually in the middle of a forest. I was lying before.” (end of ch. 2)

One gets to know Hannah well through her internal thought process. Some of her thinking is pure stream of consciousness which I enjoyed reading, like at the beginning of chapter 5 when she looks at and contemplates the sky, then the ceiling, then the walls, and then the ceiling lights. From there she imagines what would happen if the bulbs stopped working. Would they let a maintenance worker come in her room to fix them, considering that they have labelled her “a danger to herself and others?” Would they send her outside? There is a lot more detail to these thoughts in Hannah’s mind. 

Sheinmel writes Hannah as witty and clever, which makes A Danger to Herself and Others a more entertaining read. For example, she nicknames her psychiatrist Dr. Lightfoot because she wears ballet slippers and taps the floor as she walks. Also, Hannah doles out interesting tidbits to ponder along the way.

"I suppose your name is the first thing that ever really belongs to you, but when you think about it, it’s not yours at all. Your parents chose it.”

“They needed someone to blame, and I was the only available scapegoat. Their daughter was my best friend. Playing the scapegoat was the least I could do under the circumstances.”

“Being locked up is absurdly boring. The monotony is enough to drive a sane person crazy.”

Some of Hannah’s thinking is amusing, which endears herself to the reader. She is a likable protagonist and I found myself rooting for her.

“I know a bedpan is supposed to be humiliating, but I have to disagree. There’s something oddly luxurious about not having to leave the bed to pee. And about the fact that someone else has to take your waste away. You don’t even have to flush it yourself.”

“I don’t feel like talking. I don’t feel like thinking, either. Thinking means doubting, and doubting means Lightfoot has gotten under my skin like a rash that won’t stop spreading. Doubt means I’m beginning to believe what she says about me. I wish there were an antidoubt drug I could take instead of whatever Lightfoot gave me.”

Hannah alludes to a classic psychology experiment in the early 1970s in which a psychologist and others easily get themselves admitted to a mental hospital after claiming they heard voices saying empty, hollow and thud. Once they are diagnosed and admitted, these pseudo patients explain that they are not insane and act normally. However, now that they have been labelled, all their subsequent behavior is viewed thru the mentally ill filter.  For example, they take copious notes since this is a research experiment but such behavior is considered obsessive-compulsive by the hospital staff.  The conclusion was essentially that one cannot differentiate between the sane and insane within the confines of a mental hospital.

“‘Whoa there,’  he says, reaching out to catch me. I want to shrug off his touch, but I don’t. He might report it to Dr. Lightfoot. I imagine her noting the incident in my file. Hannah Gold doesn’t like to be touched by nameless strangers. Out in the real world, that’s good common sense. In here, it’s a symptom."

“Well, I understand everything. I understand that Dr. Lightfoot is lying to me, playing some kind of game, enjoying a sick power trip. Maybe she’s still mad at me for getting locked out of my room the other day. Maybe she wants to remind me that she’s the one in control, that as long as I’m in this room, the truth is whatever she decides it is.”

But that is Hannah’s mission, as she sees it, to prove to them that she is completely fine, this has all been a terrible mistake and what happened to Agnes was an accident.  But does she know what she is really up against? Is her thinking in fact faulty and is she irrational?

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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The point of view of a teenaged girl suffering from psychosis was compelling. Watching the story unfold through her experiences was compelling. The ending of the book felt abrupt and instead of punctuating the story, left me feeling stranded. I understand what the author intended, but for me, she didn't achieve it. Still, I recommend this book highly to YA readers, especially those who are YA aged.
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