A Danger to Herself and Others

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

I have many, many, MANY mixed feelings about this book so I will provide a full review closer to release date, when I have had enough time to fully think about what I just read.
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I am not going to dance around this, I didn’t enjoy this book.

Yes it is like Girl Interrupted and One Flew over the Cuckoos Next, but those books already exist. We don’t need another one. Stories in mental hospitals can be interesting but this book didn’t bring anything new to the genre.

I will say that this book had its good points. It has one good twist and the characters are decent. Everything else is padding, and those good factors are not enough to make the story gripping. This had the potential to be good if it was written a little differently so its individual traits stood out more.

I was also expecting more of a mystery when I went into this book but I didn’t really get one. It was slow and parts of it were more dragged out than they needed to be.

Overall, this is a dull book wrapped in a pretty cover.
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Librarian: Unreliable narrators are very popular in adult fiction, so it comes as no surprise that they're spreading into YA as well. In this case I find that to be unfortunate. I understand that this type of sensationalized suspense novel is very popular, but I feel like the depictions of mental illness in this particular story is likely to cause more harm then good. There are many excellent depictions of mental illness in young adult literature today (i.e. Turtles All the Way Down, Eliza and Her Monsters, etc.) but this isn't one of them.
Reader: I really wanted to like this one. I went in after hearing good reviews, and I was hoping for a suspense filled read. That isn't what I found. Instead I got an entire cast of thoroughly unlikable characters, who it was impossible to root for, and a overly sensationalized depiction of mental illness that feels like a throwback to a time when it was stigmatized instead of helped.
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So, I’m not in any position to tell if you this exploration of mental health issues is accurate.

I can only tell you that the story and character were fascinating and that this was a book I didn’t want to look away from.

As I read this, I wasn’t sure what was and wasn’t accurate – which was the point.  I only knew that I simply ha to know what happened to Hannah and how everything would end.

The book is both sad and compelling and very much worth the read.

*ARC Provided via Net Galley
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Talk about a plot twist.  A Danger to Herself and Others was a whirlwind roller coaster with one of the most unreliable narrators I've ever come across, in a good way!

The ending was a little rough, but true to reality.  I suspect it will be a point of identification for many.
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"A Danger to Herself and Others" is a beautiful exploration of mental illness. Though the speaker isn't always likable, her story is compelling, and I binge-read this in one sitting. Saying anything else would spoil the ending. That said, I thought it was very well-written, and perfect for fans of "A Beautiful Mind," "Turtles All the Way Down," "The Yellow Wallpaper," and "Jane Eyre." For teachers, I think this text could pair well in lit circles with books covering both feminism and mental illness.
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The writing style was really difficult to get use to.  The author writes about a difficult subject, but somehow made it feel as though the whole story was about someone else.   I felt as though the story was being told as a third party narrator that I found incredibly difficult to embrace.

I guess this writing style is just not my thing.
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Talented author! It definitely takes one to write an evolving story in basically just one room/setting while successfully keeping the reader interested! I really enjoyed this book! Sadly, this is the type of book I can't review well without subsequently giving away pertinent information. Hannah is smart, talented, rich, mature, and popular...but that doesn't mean she is perfect! Don't let her fool you. The whole time you will be wondering what really happened to Anges!! I love that this book sheds light on Mental Illness awareness! If you know anyone struggling with the various mental illnesses, don't hesitate to call and get them help!!
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There aren't enough mental health books out there that put psychosis in a sympathetic light. Characters with this illness are usually portrayed as dangerous, maniacal, and sure, this book does come with some thriller elements. The words "a danger to herself and others" are repeated ad nauseum. Hannah Gold's best friend is in the hospital, and Hannah may or may not have put her there. Things are not how they seem.

But A Danger to Herself and Others is also very much about Hannah's road to recovery, finding a treatment that fits her, finding the right diagnosis - and then what? It shows how important therapy and medication can be. I can't say how accurate this was, but I appreciated reading the story from Hannah's point of view and how she saw things, how things made her feel.

Overall, it's a quick and engaging read, I think especially for readers who don't know much about psychosis.

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a copy
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A DANGER TO HERSELF AND OTHERS is a masterpiece that had me captivated from the cover to the acknowledgements. (A quick note about the cover: it's completely beautiful--fits the novel and Hannah Gold perfectly.) I loved the book from the first sentence, but the line that really got me hooked was, "I was lying before." As soon as I realized Hannah may not be a reliable narrator, I HAD to know what happened. There were so many unexpected plot turns that I never felt bored, and even the small details felt important later on. I have been unbelievably busy over the last few months, and I haven't been able to read a full book in such a long time. I read this book in less than a day. I simply couldn't stop reading. I rolled my eyes with Hannah, laughed at her silly moments with Lucy, and then cried for a solid ten minutes (still reading because I couldn't stop). I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to read this early on, and I can't wait to suggest this title for our library network. It's an important read, not just a captivating one.
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I really enjoyed this book. Yes it was a lil slower than I expected but I think that actually improved the story. This book has so many plot twists that keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time. I absoluetly loved how the story and Hannahs past unraveld as the book went on and it really reminded me of We Were Liars but I gotta say that I enjoyed this one more. I do have to put trigger warnings for Anorexia, Bulimia and Mental illness. overall this book was so unique and I highly enjoyed it. I totally recommend picking it up. MAX
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"I wait until Doctor Lightfoot stands and turns her back to me to fold the plastic chair before I roll my eyes. Didn't they teach her not to turn her back on her patients in Medical school?"

"A Danger to Herself and Others" is about a 17 year old girl who was court-ordered to stay in a mental institution and was labeled as 'a danger to herself and others'. 

When we start the book, we have no idea what Hannah did to her friend Agnes, just that they were playing a couple games and Agnes had had an accident and was comatose, letting her parents think that Hannah had tried to kill her in someway.

This book was a very slow page turner for me - I just couldn't get into it the way I got into "Impulse" or "Mara Dyer" (Two other YA books that also play on the 'psychosis/mental illness' take). The repetition of the title, although aptly used and I understood the symbolism of it in the story, was overused and misplaced in really weird ways in the narration. 

I felt like one or two times would have been fine, to remind the reader about Hannah's diagnosis/dilemma, but it was repeated so many times over the course of the book that it got to be some empty word instead of something that defined what Hannah was there for. It popped up in the wrong places when it should have just been used once in the beginning and then sparsely when needed to remind the reader of what Hannah was going through.

During the course of Hannah's stay at the mental institution she is at, she ends up getting a roommate that is there for bulimia named Lucy. Through the coarse of the book, we end up finding out more about Hannah's friend, Agnes, and her life back home - her sort of boyfriend that Agnes liked, her friends, and her family. These little slices of her life before the incident took place was refreshing to me - The institution, although a great setting for this story in particular, is not very intriguing to me as much as the mystery surrounding the 'why' she is in there in the first place - and kept me more engaged in the storyline than the situations going on in the institution itself.

Lucy, Hannah's roommate, was by far my favorite character. I loved her 'no-holds-barred' attitude and her friendship with Hannah was realistic in a way that they both didn't want to 'fix' the other; they just wanted to understand the other person and have a connection. 

At first, I had a slight suspicion about Lucy, but I wasn't too sure and after the story went on, my suspicion began to fade. Her character, and Hannah's, were so well-written for the development involved. I really enjoyed how their relationship grew and would have loved just a little bit more development before the "big reveal". 

Overall, four stars for an outstanding story that kept me on my toes and kept me guessing. The beginning is a bit slow, I'll admit, and the repetition of the title is annoying at best but I'm so glad I didn't abandon this book because the rest of the storyline was phenomenal. 

- I received a free E-book in exchange for my honest review -
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Hannah Gold was born mature. This is what her parents have always said. As a baby and a toddler, instead of being settled with babysitters, she was attending the theater, fancy restaurants and even travelling abroad with her parents. And she was always given her own hotel room, even at four years old, left to her own devices while her parents went places that little girls are not allowed, the casino, bars, etc. She's also incredibly smart and witty, and has no problems making friends, she's had numerous best friends over her lifetime, it's always so easy for her. She's going to get into Harvard, or Yale, or some other Ivy league school once she finishes high school. Money's never a problem, and she lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, she likes to go shopping with her mother, and reading books that are college level. Everything's going perfect, until Hannah finds herself being admitted to a psychiatric facility in California, having been torn away from her summer program. Not a summer program for struggling student, a summer program for students to start earning credit towards College, a summer program for the smart kids. Her best friend and room mate Agnes has been involved in an accident, an incident, and the judge has court ordered Hannah Gold to undergo psychiatric observation, however, it's all just a big misunderstanding, and everything will be fine once it all gets straightened out, won't it? 

I don't know what I was expecting when I requested this book, but I don't think it was what I got. This is not a bad thing, this book blew me away. I almost read it in one sitting, I started reading it last night before bed and only stopped because my eyelids were protesting for sleep, otherwise I surely would've finished it in one sitting, no doubt about it. 

When the story opens, we are introduced to Hannah Gold as she is sitting in the administration part of this building, with an orderly writing her information down on a clip board. She is soon taken to her room, stripped of her civilian clothes, and the door is shut. We don't know much about Hannah except that she is confined to her room, in solitary, that her best friend Agnes has had an accident, and she's been court ordered to the facility as she is deemed a danger to herself and others.

We follow Hannah on her journey as she finds out more about the accident that has left Agnes in a coma, why she is in the facility in the first place, and as she gains and loses privileges while trying to work out why they've given her a roommate called Lucy, especially if she may be a danger to herself and others. 

Hannah is a perfectly imperfect character and I loved how she was written, everything in her life is perfect, her parents and their friends have always said so, it also gives way for the reader to think about, is her life really perfect? Who's life is perfect? And also raises questions about one's perception of themselves compared to what other people perceive them to be. 

This book deals with mental health issues such as eating disorders, suicide, depression, psychosis and a myriad of other things. I think this book piqued my interest because of the mental health tag, I myself suffer with mental health issues, not on the scope that I believe this book deals with them, but mental health issues nonetheless. This is the third book ever that has brought me to tears, and it wasn't because of attachment to a character who dies, or anything like that, it really hit close to home with how some of the characters deal with mental health issues. One of the characters is struggling with adjustment, and other characters are afraid of them. This broke my heart. I know myself, that a massive part of being able to live and function with mental illness is to not be ostracised because your brain functions differently to "normal" people, that mental illness is not contagious, and that majority of the time a person with mental illness is more likely to hurt themselves than someone else. Having people around who are open enough to try and adapt with you is imperative to adjusting to living with a brain that is misfiring or a brain that is not producing enough of some chemical, especially when one decides to take the leap and accept medical help, whether that is in the form of medication or therapy, or both. It's not easy accepting yourself as having a brain that functions differently, and having people around you that can help with this is important. So yes, this book hit me hard, not because I've gone through what this character did, but purely because I am so lucky that I've never had to go through dealing with family being scared of me, worried that I'd pass on my crazy to them. I've always been supported, especially when I need it most. So it was upsetting to realise that, not everyone has this in their life when they need it, even when they don't. People go through something so life shattering by themselves, with no one around who understands. 

And I've gotten WAY off topic haha. So the pacing of the book was fantastic, and the story flowed brilliantly. The way the author has written the narration really gives a feel for a frantic brain, and you can sympathise with Hannah and what the characters are going through. The author does state that this is not meant to be an accurate representation of mental illness, as medication and diagnosis effect people differently, nonetheless, it was brilliantly written. Definitely goes into the category of a sure fire unputdownable book.
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This book is an amazing exploration of mental illness and human psychology. The MC is crafted in such a way that every plight of her journey is personally felt by the reader. The story is believable and impactful and is a great read for opening up a very important dialogue about the stigma of mental illness.
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I really enjoyed this novel. The unreliable narrator kept me guessing what was going on and I like how the author kept things interesting even though most of the novel we are stuck in a very small space. I wish there was maybe one more twist at the end I felt like once one thing was revealed another was ki da obvious. All in all it was a very good read maybe falling a little flat towards the end
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Hannah Smith has always been exceptional. A straight A student destined for success, Hannah finds herself in a summer program for advanced students where she plans to earn nine college credits before she ever begins her senior year of high school. Until her roommate falls out of a second story window and winds up in a coma. Until she finds herself locked up in an institution after the roommate's parent's blame her for the fall. But she isn't crazy. She knows that soon everyone will realize that it's all a misunderstanding and she will be back home like nothing ever happened. Right?
 
I really enjoyed this book. When I first started reading, I really thought I knew what was going to happen and I was totally prepared to say I knew the ending halfway through the book (I was wrong). Sheinmel did a great job portraying Hannah. She was a very strong main character. I felt like I really got to know her and I was on her side even when it felt like I shouldn't be. I really liked the way the author dealt with  mental illness and the associated stigmas. Readers get to see the journey all the way through from diagnosis to life after. I was definitely left wanting more. 

The beginning was a little slow. I knew based on the description that I would end up loving it, but it was hard to get into at first. There were a few instances when I was left wishing for more detail. For example, Hannah goes through best friends like kids go through candy on Halloween, but I never found out why that happened, what split them up, or if they were associated with her mental illness. 

Awesome book, awesome author! I definitely want to read more from Alyssa Sheinmel. I think this is a really important topic, especially in today's times when people are finally starting to make an effort to understand mental illness and she did a fantastic job writing about it. 

4/5 Stars
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"Let this thing play out. Just until everything passes".

Hannah is remanded into custody at an institution for psychiatric evaluation after an accident occurs at the summer programme she's attending. She's sure it's all a formality and will all blow over, because she can't be to blame for what happened, can she? 

I loved this book. There's nothing I find more entertaining than an unreliable narrator. Contradicting herself from one line to the next, can we really trust her judgement on any of this story? 

"Luckily, I know how to become someone's best friend. It's a skill I've honed since kindergarten".

Hannah is so confident in her abilities and intelligence, she thinks she is a step above other people. As an only child, her parents have raised her to be mature from birth, and it's interesting to see what effect this has on her psyche. 

I would recommend this book to fans of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and obviously Girl Interrupted. There are parallels to be drawn, but this stands apart as an excellent piece of fiction that explores the world of teenagers striving to meet expectations and living with mental illness.
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I found Danger to Herself and Others a very very interesting read. it was great to see and feel as Hannah did
when she met Lucy, the confusion and hope that perhaps they were letting her broaden and ‘heal’. It is no
wonder that Alyssa Sheinman is a NYT Bestseller with amazing novels like these.
I did find that this novel was a really good book to read when just trying to wind down. It was easy, fun but not
boring. The characters were all extremely well developed and they progressed with ease and grace, but in
some areas I felt that the emotion Hannah was feeling wasn’t expressed as well as it could have been. One
minute she had curled her fingers because she was upset and the next she was being sedated. This does
concern me as I wonder what treatment to patients are like in horrible circumstances. If the emotion had been
further explored or perhaps the plot twists were sprung up on the reader and not built up to, so we didn’t
expect it.
Read full review / more at
https://afewchapterstillove.wixsite.com/afcl
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A great story about a girl who ends up in a mental hospital after her friend has an "accident", and doesn't believe that she belongs there. It shows how mental disease could affect anyone.
So deep and hard to get used to, but once you do you will not put it down. 
Thank you NetGalley for the free advance copy!
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Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. 

This review will contain both a spoiler-free and a with-spoiler section. I do not recommend looking at the latter if you plan on reading A Danger to Herself and Others because a major crisis in the book benefits from you having a blank slate.

 SPOILER-FREE REVIEW 
The beginning of A Danger to Herself and Others didn't draw me in right away. The narrator and our main character, Hannah, describes her arrival at the psychiatric hospital from processing to placement in her room. The action happening in front of her (which would help physically situate the reader, things like a man asking her name, or her walking down a hall) was drowned out by her very scattered, seemingly random thoughts. I quickly realized this is how Hannah likes to be, that she processes what is in front of her and thinks deeply about everything before reacting. Getting used to her character took a moment, but once I knew that she was a studious and serious girl, I began to dig deeper into the book. 

Hannah accepts her term at the psychiatric hospital with grace: she's not supposed to be there, so of course her time will be short since soon it will be discovered that she was placed by accident. Hannah knows why she was accidentally placed: it's left to the reader to uncover this information and if the decision was truly an accident over the course of the novel. Even though Hannah is calm about being placed, she still shows her dislike of being confined, of being told when to shower, of having someone else choose when and where she eats. Her bursts of panic washed over me when she walked into her room — eight feet by seven as she had measured by pacing back and forth — to see the small space she inhabited and could not leave.

Hannah's days follow a close routine: meals and talk-therapy with "Dr. Lightfoot." (Hannah nicknamed the doctor based on ballet shoes the woman would wear.) Dr. Lightfoot's positive portrayal in the book is what truly made this reading both thought-provoking and unforgettable. (Not that Hannah's journey is anything to dismiss.) The doctor does not come to each session ready to crack open Hannah's secrets. She is not a wealth of happiness and joy, promising Hannah everything is going to be sunshine and rainbows. Dr. Lightfoot works steadily to see why Hannah is at the psychiatric hospital, becoming neither a friend nor an enemy. Just a doctor. Which was exactly what Hannah needed. 

I don't know what I can say about Lucy other than her friendship with Hannah truly ruined me. 

 SPOILER-(ish) REVIEW 
If you are reading this, I really hope you have either already read A Danger to Herself and Others because going into this book already spoiled will ruin a lot of the climax. 

I want to touch on one great and grand thing that I find Sheinmel did very well with this book. A hands down reason that I believe this book needs to be shared with friends, with libraries, with teens suffering from mental illness. 

Alyssa B. Sheinmel depicted a mental health institution positively. Out of context this does not make sense, so allow me to explain. I have never visited a MHI nor have I researched them. I have no knowledge on how they are run. The most information I do have comes from, surprisingly, YA fiction. And none of those depictions are positive whatsoever. I have read a book where an underage teenager is committed against her will without any medical reasons and immediately force-fed unnamed medication by the staff until she breaks out days later. I read a book where a character recalls a past trip "in the loony bin" where she lived strapped to a table. These representations tie together to create a fear of mental health institutions, places where you will be mistreated, misdiagnosed, and abused. 

I do not want to deny these things can happen. But when YA books are written for teenagers who suffer so very often from mental health issues, and then mental health institutions are depicted so terribly when for many, it's actually a life support, well, it's maybe more than disconcerting? 

In A Danger to Herself and Others, Sheinmel showed Dr. Lightman and the mental health institution as a place Hannah needed to be. At the beginning of the book, Hannah is confused but certain she should not be at the facility — in response, Dr. Lightman gives her space. Hannah begins to talk more, and Dr. Lightman listens. Hannah is given medication when the doctor knows what medication is required. Hannah is informed what the medication is for (though she does not have a choice in taking it, because she is underage). 

I am not going to say Sheinmel's representation of a MHI is positive as in "happy", because that is not the case. Hannah suffers. She is uncomfortable with her lack of privacy and she loses rights she had "on the outside." But Sheinmel shows how a MHI can help someone with a mental illness. 

This book made me shocked. This book made me sad. This book made me think more on things that I already think about, and didn't think I could think more on. 

I do want to throw in Sheinmel's disclaimer that she did not write this book to educate anyone on mental health/illness. As I said before, I myself do not know how accurate her depiction is to the current state of psychiatric hospitals today. All I do know is I think teenagers need more healthy representations of mental health and this book does that. 

I could go on about this book for sooo much longer. I could talk about Hannah's recovery process, and how the way she longs for Jonah and Lucy (particularly in the bathroom scene) really got to me. The way her parents dismissed Hannah's way of viewing the world as "just imaginary friends." 

My only true gripe with this book is how rare Hannah's form of mental illness is. Not only is she in the twenty percent for having it, she's in the one percent of the form she has. (*Forgive me if my percentages are off, I forgot to bookmark the page.) But this, of course, just goes to Sheinmel's disclaimer that she is not writing to educate and not once in reading this did I feel like she used mental illness as a plot device or hook. 

RATING
I rate this book at 4.5 with a hiiiiigh recommendation rating. On any websites that don't allow .5 expect to see this as a 5. I knocked off a point because I do find that with some of the topics covered in this book, personal experience or intensive research is required. (And maybe there is/was, it just wasn't mentioned.) But this is a personal opinion! 

Review to be posted on blog on February 4 (https://bookprincessreviews.wordpress.com/)
Review to be posted on goodreads on February 4 (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2525991649)
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