A Danger to Herself and Others

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

Hannah Gould knows that there's been a mistake; she doesn't need to be here, she doesn't need to be institutionalized. Everything that happened with Agnes was just a mistake. The sooner the doctors here figure that out, the sooner she can get back on track. She just has to convince them that she isn't a danger to herself or others. When Lucy arrives, Hannah jumps on the opportunity to show them that she can get along with other people. But her relationship with Lucy reveals more than Hannah ever though possible.

I requested this for review from NetGalley because both the cover and premise intrigued me. And once I started reading, I didn't want to put the book down. There's something about the way Hannah narrates the novel that just makes you want to keep reading; she's unflinchingly honest and is so sure about herself in the beginning; she knows how to manipulate people. The writing style reminded me a bit of Mindy McGinnis, with a not-so-likable narrator that you grow to like as you move further into the novel. Hannah is the reason that I kept reading, desperate to know where her story was going to take her.

The plot itself was a bit predictable to me, but I've also read quite a few texts that deal with mental health. The portrayal of mental health, overall, in this novel is more fleshed out than some, showing that mental health can affect anyone anywhere. Hannah is from a very privileged background; I only wish that we got more interactions with here family because these were most interesting to me. Since her parents value appearance so much, it'd be interesting to see how their family relationships change after the diagnosis.

There's a little bit of a thriller element to this novel as well, as Hannah tries to remember what happens with her summer school roommate, Agnes (who is in a coma at the beginning of the novel). All of these elements work well together to create a novel that will be difficult to put down once you pick it up.
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This title sounded interesting and, even though it is not my normal read, jumped off the screen at me. As I got into the book, I began to get really frustrated, not with the subject idea, but pretty much with everything else. Mental illness is a touchy subject that needs to be discussed and studied. Sheinmel had a great opportunity to showcase the ups and downs, the fear, and the prospects for recovery and acceptance. Unfortunately, this was a mess of a book that would only succeed in making things more complicated.
Hannah, our main character, has been committed for something she didn’t do. She just needs to wait it out and she will be proven sane and set free. Unbeknown to her, this is definitely not the case. Hannah’s character is confident, smart, and well cultured. To the reader, her attitude comes off as bratty, stuck up, annoying, and arrogant. I just could not like her or feel for her, even as she came to terms with herself. She constantly felt she knew better than anyone else around her and, even in the end, never fully accepted her plight. Since this was from Hannah’s perspective, the other characters sort of fell flat as she had to be the most important person in her world. Lucy was the only one that had some personality, yet it was minimal. 
The writing is where I think the book fell apart. The repetitiveness quickly made me feel like I was going crazy (or becoming sick, in Lightfoot’s terms). The title line “a danger to herself and others” is repeated so many times that my eyes hurt from rolling them. “Light as a feather, stiff as a board” will also probably make me feel sick for a while. This repetition wasn’t needed so much and took emphasis away, rather than adding it. Being in Hannah’s mind and learning about what is going on as she does was well placed, yet with her attitude against everything, it was hard to follow along. The pacing was staggered and I found myself putting this down many times only to struggle to pick it back up again.
The ending was very disappointing. There is no real diagnosis for Hannah and that leaves the reader unsure of what she is really suffering through. There is no follow up of how things went or where they might go. It almost seemed as though there was acceptance on Hannah’s part, only to be denied immediately again on the plane. With such a heavy subject on the line, I would have liked to see some aftermath, good or bad. After all we went through with Hannah, some pay out should be awarded.
In the end, this isn’t one I will be recommending. There isn’t enough discussion about an actual disease or what is to deal with it. Even if there was, Hannah’s character doesn’t claim enough of the reader’s sympathy to really understand what she is going through. It did keep me interested to the end, but that only led to a big disappointment.
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I am a little bit confused with the narrative style. But as I read this book, I know where the story will lead to. I love the narrative style in this novel.
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I didn't like this book, but I'm having trouble articulating WHY exactly I didn't like it. I read it fast, it kept my attention, it was an interesting premise, but at the end of the day, I just cannot confidently say I liked it. In an attempt to explain myself, let's dive in. 

Plot
Hannah's roommate Agnes took a tumble out a window and now she's in a coma. By court order, Hannah is being held in a mental institution for observation, because now it's become a question of whether or not Hannah pushed her, and whether or not she meant intentional harm. This book is told first person through Hannah's perspective, which I thought was a really good idea by the author because it allows the reader a look inside the head of someone with a severe mental disorder. Everything Hannah is saying sounds logical and real, but we're all familiar with he concept of an unreliable narrator. The plot really intrigued me and I enjoyed the pace of the story. 

Characters
Characters is a tricky topic to do without any spoilers, so we're just gonna talk about Hannah. Hannah is the type of girl who always had a best friend, who always did exceptional in school, and who was never in trouble. Her parents praised her her entire life for being an easy kid to deal with, and she doesn't seem to have any problems in life. That is, until Agnes falls, and everything shatters. Hannah was an interesting character, especially because you get to watch her find her diagnosis slowly and hard. I could tell from the beginning something was off with her, and I ended up being right about what is was, but I enjoyed seeing it through her eyes so it didn't bother me. 

Now, I think one of my biggest problems with this book was the ending. It ends on a cliffhanger, which is fine, but it's the attitude of the cliffhanger that bothers me a lot. There's no hope, there's no room for happiness of growth. I understand that this may be Hannah's mindset, and there is a reason for writing it this way, but it left a really bad taste in my mouth. I tend to stay away from books about mental health for this reason. Authors seem to have a problem with either demonizing their mentally ill character, or implying that their whole life will forever be awful and they'll never overcome it. In the case of this book, it's the latter, and the way it's framed make it out to be Hannah's fault. She can't deal with it, she's being difficult, she doesn't want to try. This makes it seem as though the author is saying that mentally ill people won't amount to anything if they have a negative attitude, and that's their fault. I know this isn't the message that the author is trying to get across, but it really stuck out to be like this. If you're going to write a thriller where the main character or the villain is mentally ill, you have to be careful not to blame things on them. Yes, they can blame themselves, and the other characters can blame them, but the writing seemingly blaming them is where I have a problem. 

So this book was not for me. It is a good thriller, but something about it just did not work with me. I wouldn't say not to read it, but maybe if you have a mental illness yourself, go into it knowing it won't make you feel any better.
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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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