A Danger to Herself and Others

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

Mystery books aren’t my top preferred genre—not even in my top 5, really—but the fact that Danger is more of a mystery shrouded within a story of a young woman’s struggle with mental illness was enough to sell me on the synopsis, plus we don’t get a ton of Jewish rep in contemporary stories and Hannah is a young Jewish girl.

Right from the start, I felt like Alyssa B. Sheinmel’s narrative voice suited the story perfectly, as there’s something a little rough around the edges about the way she tells a story (and I mean this as a good thing). She really managed to immerse me in this world Hannah’s living in while she’s there in the Institution, despite the fact that it’s established early on that we can’t be certain Hannah’s telling the truth in her descriptions.

If you enjoy unreliable narrators, you’ll love Hannah, because she thrives on keeping the reader in the dark as she recounts her memories of what happened to land her in this place to begin with. She’s an extremely manipulative (and fairly narcissistic) character, and the most intriguing part of that is how she manages to extend that manipulation into the storytelling, too.

There’s not much of anything I can say about the plot without risking spoilers, because there are twists scattered throughout the story that you’ll want to meet for yourselves. All I’ll say is that I thought Alyssa B. Sheinmel is a tremendously enjoyable writer and I will happily be coming back for more of her work in the future.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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When I read the summary of this book, I was immediately interested. I thought that this would be a thriller that would leave me breathless. It did, but not in the way that a thriller would.

Hannah begins her story in a institution, pacing her tiny room while she wonders when her parents are going to take her out of there since she very obviously does not belong. Sure, her roommate fell out of a window and Hannah was the only one there, but that doesn't mean Hannah pushed her. So she's stuck in this institution with no way out, but then Lucy arrive and Hannah knows that she's her out. Hannah can use her to show the doctors what a great friend she can be, and then they'll send her right home. It's the prefect plan, except for one thing: Lucy is the key to everything that will unravel Hannah.

It's so difficult to talk about this book without giving away anything. I guess let's lay down the basics: this is about mental health, Hannah is very troubled, and none of the horrifying situations that happen in this book are her fault. As her story unfolds, we learn about a rich Upper East side girl, the kind of girl that Gossip Girl had been made about. Her parents traveled all over the world, taking Hannah with them and leaving her for hours at a time in her own hotel room. She's always had best friends, girls that she can mold into anyone she wants, and she's never been the type to take no for a first - or even second - answer. Hannah is strong-willed and brilliant. Hannah is also beginning to understand herself better.


When writing about the things that the brain does - and can do - to us, there's this fine line of creating believable situations that will remain believable once the twist comes. In this case, once Hannah learns about her diagnosis, the reader goes back through the book to see the hints, like we're trying to pick it apart so we can point to a black hole and tell the author that Hannah couldn't have created these friends because look right here! But then you notice the fact that Lucy never speaks to anyone else. The doctor seems to ignore her completely when she walks into the room. Lucy escapes the hospital with little fanfare and makes it back inside. Even Jonah, who we only learn about through Hannah's memories, doesn't seem to interact with anyone other than her, even when he's with his supposed girlfriend. Hannah has created a world so whole and real that there are no black holes that we can point to.

This was beautifully written, and not just the prose. Alyssa Sheinmel approached this topic with care, and never once did it seem like she was being unnecessary cruel to Hannah or her illness. She wove the story about Hannah and her illness, creating situations that seemed real and honest, while still remaining faithful to mental health. Hannah was not a cliché. She was the kind of teenager that we might encounter at Starbucks or see at school. But she's sick, and that doesn't always show outwardly. Does that make her different? Yes, but it doesn't make her the kind of monster that others thought she was.

Basically, if you're ready to cry and want to figure out a mystery at the same time, A Danger to Herself and Others is for you.
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A danger to herself and others is a great book about a girl with a mental illness. It was written very beautifully! It caught my attention immediately. I think Hannah is a special and interesting main character. She has a lot of confidence, and she thinks that she is smarter than anyone else. I would definitely recommend it!
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I wanted to love this one, but unfortunately, I didn't..
Let's talk about the good first. I very much enjoyed Hannah's character development as well as some side characters, they were pretty developed as well. I LOVED Hannah as an unreliable narrator, even if I didn't necessary like her character, which I don't think we're supposed to. The writing was smooth and made this for a quick read, even if I wasn't able to get to this book as quick as I'd like.

Now for the bad. I really disliked the representation of mental institutions in this book, the author did make mention in her note at the end but I really thought it could've been done better. Instead, she knowingly made it pretty bad. Bothered me just a bit. I also didn't care for the ending, it all felt very rushed and just wasn't necessarily the ending I was expecting and it left me wanting more, since we really didn't get much from Hannah's ending (or new beginning).
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I was provided with the ARC by netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

"Just a little tap, just to see what would happen"

✅Psychological Drama
✅Intriguing protagonist
✅Interesting look into mental illness
❌Ending felt rushed

Hannah was a very interesting charecter to read about, she was institutionalized for a crime she didn't commit and seems like a totally normal (if not spoiled) teenager. Her story was told mostly through inner dialogue and was highly emotional, i was blindsided by the plot twist! The ending though fell short for me, i finished feeling like I was sure i missed a chapter because there seemed like so much more that needed to be delved into. Also the repetition throughout the book became frustrating, maybe I was supposed to feel that way? I did really enjoy the writting and the plot was great.

TW: mentions of suicide, eating disorders
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I have mixed feelings about this book. 
In the beginning, I was hooked. I totally love unreliable narrators. But Hannah wasn't always my favorite character. It was very interesting to be inside her head and having a picture of what was happening. I liked Lucy and the relationship between them. I was curious to know what was happening in Hannah's head. But as the story went along Hannah was starting to get very annoying and by the end, I was just skimming it. It started to lose my attention to the point where I didn't care how it ended. I definitely feel like the first half was stronger than the rest.
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What I got was not what I was expecting from A Dang er to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel. I was expecting a bit of a mystery and then maybe a happily ever after once the mystery was solved. That was definitely not it.

The story follows Hannah as she is put into a psychiatric facility after her best friend at a summer program has a tragic accident and she is blamed. Hating her stay, but trying to pretend she’s doing everything she is suppose to so they will let her out, Lucy moves in to her room. Instead of a little company, Lucy ends up being the one person that might help Hannah come to terms with everything going on inside her.

Twisty. That’s one word I would describe this book as. Alyssa Sheinmel had me fooled for a good chunk of this book, and then when I thought I figured it out, I was convinced my mind was just playing tricks on me and I had it backwards yet again. Hannah is weird and Sheinmel wants you to feel that way I think. She’s the awkward kid in school and she can make people uncomfortable with her smarts, her over-achieving ways, and the oddity that just seems to be Hannah. That plays over for the reader. The characters leave much to be known, but give just enough away to make you yearn for more and want to know more about their lives. The only little issue I had was that sometimes it flowed slower than I’d like, which caused my interest to wain. It would always pick up after a bit, I just wanted it to maintain the intense suspense like the majority of the story.

A Danger to Herself and Others is a true psychological thriller that will have you guessing your own sanity along the way. Alyssa Sheinmel wrote a steady flowing mystery that kept me wanting to know what the end outcome was going to be. Anyone would enjoy this story and should pick up a copy. I’ll be checking out more from Alyssa Sheinmel.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. 
All I can really say about A Danger to Herself and Others is WOW!! I couldn't put this book down. I needed to know what happened and just couldn't stop. This is a great book!
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I was not able to get to this book in time. I had some family issues arise and now it feels too late to add anything new to the conversation.

Thank you for the opportunity to review. I greatly appreciate the chance to review any advanced copies that I receive.
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Alyssa Sheinmel's A Danger to Herself and Others is the newest, highly dynamic release from Sourcebooks Fire. After an accident in which her roommate is left in a coma, Hannah Gold finds herself involuntarily committed and waiting for things to work themselves out. Marked as a danger to herself and others, Hannah must figure out what's going on in the world around her, as well as within her own mind. I was provided an e-ARC by Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Having read books from the Sourcebooks imprint in the past, I was excited to get my hands on A Danger to Herself and Others. Sourcebooks takes pride in publishing books with a strong teenage voice that go further than just a piece of fiction. This shows in each of their books I've read.

A Danger to Herself and Others opened much like After the Fire, with our main character in a psych ward, with the readers left piecing together just what happened in Hannah's life to get her there. However, that's where the similarities between the two books end. Where Moonbeam is nervous and clearly hiding something, she was also genuine. In A Danger to Herself and Others, Hannah is too calm, too collected. As her internal monologue continues, she's also clearly hiding something, but it feels from the beginning that she truly could be dangerous.

At first, this feeling of deception is alienating, but as the story continues, I found myself rooting for Hannah. As much as she's lying to everyone else, she's very much lying to herself. For all that her parents doted on her, she had an immeasurable amount of pressure placed on a child far too young. Being mature for one's age to that degree is usually a sign of something wrong in the nurture process. 

Overall, this was a really great book to read. It approached things from Hannah's point of view completely and allowed us to see her falter. One thing to keep in mind, throughout A Danger to Herself and Others the anxiety level is constantly increasing. At first, it's a low level, something is off, anxiety, but by midway through, it's full level. That said, despite being highly reactive to anxiety reading, by the end I really loved this book and was glad I finished.
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This was the type of book that you had to really get deep into because off how the story developed. What happens when your sanity is called into question and you begin to believe everyone was right all along. This book touches on a subject near and dear to my heart;: struggling with and being diagnosed with a mental illness and how the way people viewed her changed and the belief in her words changed because of that. 
NetGalley thank you for the chance to read this story and write about it to others.
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I like starting a book and not having any idea what it is about and letting it unfold as the author tells it with no preconceived ideas.   well written and i was rooting for the heroine
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Wow. That is the best word I can use to describe this book. I absolutely loved it! It was interesting, got me thinking, important and completely relevant. The author highlights mental illness from the main characters point of view which I loved (especially a mental illness which I feel like hasn't come up a lot in fiction). 

From the first page I was hooked on the story. I wanted to know what was happening. For awhile I didn't realise that Hannah was an unreliable narrator but once I figured it out, the story made a lot more sense. She was a great character and watching her come to terms with her mental illness was completely amazing. 

It was written in a way where you could feel the despair of Hannah, so much so I took it on for her. I have never been so engrossed and utterly connected to. The pacing was great and the story was the perfect length. The setting was also the best place for the story to unravel. 

I can't say too much about it without spoiling it but wow I loved it and I cannot wait to read more of Alyssa Sheinmel's work.
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Thank you so much to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for allowing me to read an e-arc of “A Danger To Herself and Others.” All opinions stated in this review are my own. This YA suspense novel just came out on February 5th & I highly recommend that you check it out, especially if you’re the type of reader that likes to be kept on the edge of your seat!!

In this story we meet Hannah Gold who has been institutionalized after her roommate , Agnes, had a two-story fall from the window in their room. Agnes currently resides in the hospital and is unable to recount the details of that night, but one thing is for sure, her life will never be the same. Was the fall some type of freak accident, did Agnes jump, or was she intentionally pushed? As this twisted tale unravels, you’ll be turning the pages faster and faster to get the answers that you crave.

As soon as I was introduced to Hannah and she stated, “ I’m only here because of a misunderstanding, so there’s no need for me to panic,” I knew that not only was she in complete denial but she would be one hell of an unreliable narrator. I was ready to panic each and every time she associated a missing piece that doctors could NOT wear because they would be dangerous to herself AND others. For example, glasses that “...[She] could use the metal and glass to gouge her eyes out,” or a watch “ [Just] another thing that could be used as a weapon if a patient moved quickly and was ambitious enough.”  Even the food that she ate posed a threat, she thought about how it was only luke warm so that she couldn’t burn anyone else with it. I was truly afraid for Dr. “ Lightfoot” when Hannah wondered to herself why she wasn’t taught in medical school not to turn her back on patients! Yikes! What is this girl capable of!?

I was even a bit creeped out when I started to relate to this unpredictable and reckless character, for I too used to ...” Carry around books the way that other kids carried their baby blankets and stuffed animals.” What’s wrong with me? Am I too smart for my own good, or according to Hannah was I just “bored?”

I must admit that I did see some of the twists coming, especially due to doctor/ patient confidentiality, but I do not feel that the predictability took anything away from the story. It was gripping; quite captivating!

This book lost one star for me due to the ending ... ( A moderate spoiler below...please do not read if you don’t want to know details about the last chapter.) while I can appreciate that the conclusion was realistic and I support Hannah getting better, I really wanted her to spit that little blue pill out on the plane and take matters into her own hands once again. I wanted a second book where Hannah becomes the NEW Queen Bee. It would serve her parents right after acting as if she were a burden all of her life, and now a contagion; someone to be ashamed of. Maybe her parents need just a little tap ( wink wink).

Can’t wait to read more from Alyssa Sheinmel!
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This YA novel about a young girl struggling to come to terms with her mental illness was highly engaging and deeply moving.I cried my share of tears at the end of this one. Hannah as a character was highly relateable and the narrative made me consider how many prejudices still remain. This is one 2019 read that you won't want to miss!
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3.5 Stars

Touted as a mix of We Were Liars and Girl, Interrupted, A Danger to Herself and Others caught my attention immediately. The blurb immediately lets us know we're dealing with an unreliable narrator in an institutional setting. Hannah knows how to make friends with anyone, but when her roommate from summer school is in a coma fingers start pointing in her direction. It's just a matter of time, of putting up with the dingy green walls, and making friends with her roommate, everything should clear up no problem. Except the days have turned into months and Hannah's not even sure what day it is or if she's any closer to freedom.

Hannah seems to be, by all accounts, a totally normal teen girl. She's smart, focused on school, and cares an awful lot about what others think of her. She wants friends, she wants a boyfriend, she wants to make it through the summer outside of the four walls she's trapped in. As things start to slip for her I began to realize I didn't know Hannah at all, that we'd been fed half truths from a fictional character. It's an interesting concept, one that allows the reader to look into the head of a character with a mental disability.

I loved the premise of this book, I have been wanting to read a fictionalized story in an institution, but Hannah's story is difficult to process. Hannah is, in fact, difficult to like. It isn't her illness, it isn't her desperation to leave, it is her willingness to use everything and everyone to her advantage. She's selfish and her repetitive thoughts, though obviously explained, gets old. Everyone has a use, everything is a stepping stone, and even when medicated she's focused on where she'll get to next and what she can do to make it go her way. Of course, there are times when I was sympathetic, but it was quickly pushed aside by frustration over her willingness to just continue doing the same. I could've seen this being played in more length and maybe changing my mind about her as she spent more time with her diagnosis. We just spent a bit too much time in her thoughts with very little else going on. All that said, I still couldn't put this book down, Alyssa B. Sheinmel has quite a lot of talent and kept me hooked even when I rolled my eyes.

I recommend this book for readers looking for a pretty accurate representation of teen mental illness that isn't glossed over.
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I think this book over all is a very strong 3.5 stars, with some moments of absolute brilliance in there, which is why I decided to round it up. 

At the start I thought the book was very predictable, but BOY was I wrong! There are definitely some unpredictable bits to this book which are written brilliantly. I have felt a lot of emotions while reading those intense sections. When looking at the not so intense parts, the writing style is very pleasant and gives me enough to keep on reading without feeling like the story is dragging. The main character is written in a way that we can easily identify with her. She is supposedly and sounds very smart for her age, though I'm quite surprised she was so relaxed about being institutionalized. I would've expected more anxiety or emotions in general about being locked up. A little more details about getting checked in there would've added to the story. Her calmness about the hospitalization plus how mature she sounds, makes her character almost unbelievable (she's 17 yo),but nonetheless an enjoyable character to follow.
The story over all is interesting and for as far as I'm concerned pretty original. Although I read the description before requesting the e-ARC, by the time I started reading the book I had forgotten what it was about and I think that's the best way to dive into this story. This book is very promising for the future and I'd love to see what else this author will come up with next.
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“What’s your name?” he asked.

I consider saying: What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

I was sitting; he was standing. The clipboard was level with my forehead, and when he cocked his hip, the clipboard swayed dangerously close to my face. He smiled tightly. His teeth were yellow and crooked. 

He said, “Don’t be difficult.”

Do you find Shakespeare difficult?

“What’s your name?” he repeated.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Hannah Gold.

Junior in high school, soon to become a Senior. Hannah is witty, ambitious and top in her class. She heads to sunny California for summer school to broaden her horizons and gain extra credits towards school. She meets Agnes and the two become inseparable best friends. When a horrific accident sends Agnes to the hospital, Hannah finds herself locked up with a girl named Lucy and a huge misunderstanding.

They’re trying to make me believe I’m crazy. There’s a word for it: they’re gaslighting me.

Hannah Gold has been taken to a psychiatric facility as she awaits a trial she feels she should not be a part of. She did not put up a fight. She was a willing patient, confident, knowing this was all a mistake. She had secrets to hide (such as her betrayal to Agnes. A boy named Jonah.)

As the trial looms in the near distance, Hannah realizes she must find a way to get out. She needs all of them, including Lucy, to see how good of a friend she is. How none of this makes sense, that Hannah Gold could not be who they say she is. They think she’s crazy. But Hannah Gold is not crazy. Hannah Gold is not a danger to herself and others, they’ll see.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

But crazy people don’t get to go back to school and earn the straight A’s they need to get into Harvard and Yale and Stanford.

And crazy people don’t get to hand in their college applications not just on time but early, because crazy people don’t get to control their own schedule.

Crazy people are told what to do by doctors and caretakers for the rest of their lives 

I’ve got to get out of here.

One way or another.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

I started reading this book excited by the idea behind it. As I started reading, however, I felt bored. I couldn’t believe how much she went on and on about the facility she was in. The room she was in. Green. Paper-thin clothing. The smell. I continued on and glad I did. It was necessary for her to do this, and it definitely picks up.

3.5 stars because it wasn’t necessarily the ending I wanted but it was an interesting book and I’m glad I read it. It’s not really one of those books you’ll hold onto forever but it IS one that would make a good movie, if done right. 🙂

Thank you, NetGalley + Sourcebooks Fire, for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This book deals with so many issues that are so relevant to today’s society and how people look at those with these issues. I absolutely enjoyed reading it and recommend it to anyone dealing with mental health.
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My heart just cracked wide open.

This book is beauty and sorrow. 

Hannah has just been institutionalized for something she didn’t do. Soon they will realize that this is all a mistake, that she’s innocent, and they will let her go home, right? After all, Agnes was her best friend. She would never do anything to hurt her. Well, not intentionally anyway. It’s all just a big misunderstanding. Hannah is a straight-A student after all. She might even know more than the people that work in this institution, but she has to be smart. If she wants to get out, she must follow along with their tests and show them just how sane she is. They will see the truth when Agnes wakes up. It was all just an accident….wasn’t it? 

A Danger to Herself and Others is everything, and nothing, I expected it to be.

Hannah is the most fascinating character I have come across in SO long, and it’s precisely because of the multitude of layers and substance that she possesses. As soon as you think you have this girl pegged, you will be told to keep listening. As soon as you think if she is innocent or guilty, you will be told to be quiet and to sit back down. As soon as you think the last sentence of each chapter is a tell-all for what the point of this story is…well. You’d just be wrong. 

I love nothing more than a blindside, and A Danger to Herself and Others is just that. 

Hannah is every single opinion and idea I had for her while reading, and that is EXACTLY how she was designed to be. I found her to be slightly arrogant and a know-it-all, but also humbled for the extravagant life she had led before the institution. She is focused and sharp, but is easily pulled into her thoughts and fantasies. In one instance she comes across as incredibly rational and straightforward, but in the next she is breaking apart and analyzing things in a highly erratic way and repeating phrases over and over in her head. Every time she would say or do something, my opinion of her innocence and person would change. She’s innocent and sane, she’s guilty and insane. Back and forth, back and forth. 

But what I can say is true for Hannah, is that she is BOTH of EVERY side.

She is sane and insane.

Rational and irrational. 

Content and irate. 

Morbid and Neutral. 

Happy and Miserable. 

Lonely and comforted.

She is all these things and none of them. And as soon as you figure that out, you start to wonder just how different and not so different you are from her. 

Because Hannah is every single one of us, and none of us at once. 

She is the victim, and she is the villain.  

The author, Alyssa Sheinmel, has a gift for entwining suspense into this story and making me question every single aspect of it. She would beautifully make a statement from Hannah or Dr. Lightfoot that sounded factual, whilst turning it with a flick of her wrist so you questioned every single sentence thereafter. I couldn’t help but dissect EVERYTHING that was said, because I was completely caught up in finding out the truth as quickly as possible. I kept comparing myself to her, thinking about what I would do or say in her situation, and then usually coming to the conclusion that she’s being framed or she deserves to be there. I didn’t actually believe the outcome until the book finished. 

Making a reader continually question a book until the end takes SERIOUS talent. 

As I read through my notes on this book, I am noticing every single instance where my opinion is thrown around, and every time I question something I thought I knew was true. But as I move down my notes of wishy-washy-ness, it comes to a sudden halt at the bottom when I realize that this isn’t the mystery/suspense story I thought it was. Because suddenly my notes change from accusing Hannah of WHAT and WHO she IS, to only this:

I think this just broke me. 

Hannah at the end of A Danger to Herself and Others is…heartbreaking. I kept saying “oh honey..” out loud and wanting nothing more than to reach into the pages and hold her. I think it can be quite easy for an author to make a reader love and care for a character. But to make the reader feel empathy, loneliness and sorrow when the character feels those things?

That’s just magical. 

At the beginning of this read the publisher has a letter to the reader, in which they state how they only strive to publish books that change lives. I can confidently say this book has shifted my thoughts and being into one with much more compassion and love. This story isn’t just a work of fiction, it’s a message and an alarm clock to wake you up. 

Read this.

And to Sourcebooks Fire I say this:

You succeeded in your goal.
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