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A Danger to Herself and Others

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Member Reviews

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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I'm really beginning to love unreliable narrators.
After an incident in which Hannah's roommate falls from a window ledge, Hannah is confined to psychiatric supervision and labeled a danger to herself and others. We follow as Hannah tries to remember what really happened that night only for her to realize that she has been lying to herself about certain aspects of her life.
I especially liked the depiction of the main character Hannah. She's not always likable which made me connect to her even more. The raw portrayal of mental illness and its effects on yourself as well as your loved ones also definitely made me want to keep reading.
The only issue I had with it was the pacing. I really wished that we would have had more time with Hannah on the outside after her diagnosis. The first two thirds of this book move really slowly; Hannah's just waiting for something to happen, and then everything just happens at once and isn't really fleshed out or addressed in detail. Her parents don't even speak to her directly when she gets out of treatment; instead, they basically almost leave her at the airport because they can't be bothered to look after her. I wish that would have at least been addressed in some capacity beyond Hannah getting on the plane back home.

Nevertheless, this is a quick read for fans of unreliable narrators like The Mara Dyer trilogy or We Were Liars.
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I really enjoyed this book. The author did a spectacular job at getting inside the heart and mind of Hannah and giving us the best representation of her perspective. The writing was superb; my only complaint was the pacing of the story. I found it moved a bit slow. However, that's just personal preference. I believe it was intentional to deliver it that way. The story itself needed to unfold at a slower pace so you could really get the full effect of what was going on with Hannah. It really added to the intensity of the reading experience. This book is a very character driven novel. It's just us and Hannah in her small 7X8 room for most of the time. That's a big feat. Knowing readers will be spending so much time with a character can be daunting. However, the author crafted a beautiful character within Hannah. She isn't always likable (but who is? 🤷‍♀️) Hannah really takes hold of you while she leads you through her journey. She is an unforgettable character. 
Its great writing and narrative makes it a unique reading experience. Loved it!
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The unreliable narrator is showcased in this quick, thrilling read. Hannah has been characterized as a danger to herself and others, but obviously there has been a huge mistake because is perfectly healthy. What happened to her friend Agnes was an unfortunate accident. As Hannah's perception of reality slides, the reader gets an idea of how damaged Hannah really is.
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*This arc was provided to me by Netgalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.*

"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."

If you've been hanging around my channel for any length of time then you know I'm not a fan of unreliable narrators and we have one of the most unreliable narrators in Hannah. Like Mara Dyer has nothing on this girl. Hannah is in a psychiatric hospital by court order at the start of this novel because her roommate has fallen from a second story window after a game of Truth or Dare. That's all we know, that and that Hannah had nothing to do with it. ...or did she? 

"I've been labeled a danger to myself and others."

Throughout the novel we see Hannah in therapy, on lockdown in the facility until they feel she's safe going to lunch with other patients, or even getting a shower as opposed to a sponge bath in her room. We meet Lucy, her roommate with an eating disorder (trigger warnings coming but man, her scenes were hard to read at times), and we see Hannah manipulate her therapist into allowing her certain privileges not by getting "better" but simply be realizing what her therapist wants to hear. 

"She landed feetfirst, but her ankles buckled uselessly beneath her, not strong enough to sustain her weight. She fell forward and her skull hit the courtyard with a crack."

This book does NOT shy away from graphic explanations of damage, mental illness, or the repercussions of actions. In that way, I can appreciate the rawness. It also portrays mental health as a lifelong struggle, one that medication can help manage but not cure. It tries to break the cycle of believing a person is broken and to see mental illness as the sickness it is and not a "flaw". There is a focus on Hannah's brain working differently than other people and that being okay. I appreciate all of that. I can also appreciate how it humanized people with mental health issues instead of villianizing them.

However, there's also a lot that this book does not unpack, a lot that I felt this book lacked, and I was so close to DNF'ing it so many times that I just can't give it that high a rating. The look at mental health is valid, but there were aspects of Hannah's treatment that went ignored, like her VERY toxic and traumatic relationship with her parents. Without spoilers, the book ends with multiple therapists never unpacking this very real and early trauma and what impact that has on Hannah. It was downright negligent of the author to ignore that aspect of Hannah's treatment given how many times the neglect and child endangerment of her past via her parents were brought up. 

I also just loathe unreliable narrators, like, a lot. I do like studies in psychology and how the brain handles trauma, etc. However, this book seemed to have a lot of plot holes that just were never covered and that left me wondering why the author never cleaned them up. So, for me, not the best book on a topic like that that I've read, especially not after The Wicker King. 

Trigger warnings: bulimia, anorexia, eating disorders, purging (on page), self-harm, parental neglect and abandonment.
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DNF. This book bored me to hell. Almost every chapter I read are all the character's thoughts and it's so disengaging for me.

I think this would be a really great read with all the mystery and unreliable character but the writing style didn't work for me.
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Title:  A Danger to Herself and Others
Author:  Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Hannah should not be institutionalized. Her roommate at an intensive study program, Agnes, fell out a window and was severely injured, but Hannah had nothing to do with it. She and Agnes were friends—best friends—even though Hannah was hooking up with Josh, Agnes’s boyfriend, on the side. But she’d never hurt Agnes.
Her parents are off to Europe, as usual, so Hannah decides to play along with Dr. Lightfoot so she can get out of here and back to her life. School’s about to start, and she can’t afford to be late with her college applications. Hannah is on her best behavior—but nothing seems to make an impact on the doctor until Hannah’s roommate, Lucy, arrives. 

With Lucy’s help, Hannah can prove to Dr. Lightfoot that there’s nothing wrong with her, nothing at all, but Lucy will show her truths she never imagined.

Hannah is an unreliable narrator at best, but her story and the way her mind worked drew me in immediately. I knew there was something else going on here, but only started getting glimpses of what that was about halfway through. In the end, the book wasn’t what I expected at all, but I was enthralled. 

Alyssa B. Sheinmel was born in California and grew up in New York. A Danger to Herself and Others is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
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A Danger to Herself and Others is unlike any book I have ever read before. It’s different. A good different. It made me doubt everything I was reading. It even made me doubt myself.

This book makes you think and feel. Think about all the good and bad in this world. Think of all the people whose life is affected by those they love. Your feelings are put on a platter. Served before you for all to see. Do you really love Hannah or do you hate her? Do you feel sorry for her or feel normal at all?

I’m still trying to decide how I feel. I’m more confused than anything. This book makes you question everything you have read within its pages. I’m going to have to reread this with the revelations that it revealed and see if I’m crazy or not.

Ms. Scheinmel wrote a book about self doubt and what happens when a little girl grows up too fast. It’s disconcerting. Weird. Making you doubt yourself at every flip of the page. Making you doubt the narrator. It’s definitely a book you should read for yourself.
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I am a big fan of unreliable narrators, and I also like it when books have mental illness representation, which is why I decided to give this book a try.

Right off the bat I started loosing interest because I just didn't like the writing style, it made the characters feel unreal. I don't think that Hannah talked like someone her age should have talked. I also didn't feel like I got to know Hannah enough to care for her or what was happening to her. I was bored pretty much from the beginning. I didn't like that she was sleeping with her best friend's boyfriend, and I started to guess at what was happening with him too soon. At first the mystery of what happened between Hannah and her friend was enough to keep me going, but again I started figuring out what was going to happen way too soon. 

This story has been told before, and this book is nothing new. I didn't even read the whole thing, I mostly skipped around after the 25%.  I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and gave it 1 star on Goodreads.
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If you enjoy books with unreliable and sometimes completely unlikable main characters you are in for a treat.

When I say unlikable I don't mean in a bad or poorly written way. Hannah, our main character, is very intelligent and she absolutely knows it. She is arrogant and at times manipulative not just to those in her life... the story is written in a way that it feels as if the readers are also having our strings pulled. We are locked in her head the way she is locked in her room at The Institute and are forced to see things exactly the way she wants us to.

While Hannah got on my nerves at times I enjoyed going through this story with her. I liked the mystery and confusion felt at the beginning of the story. Why was she institutionalized? What really happened the night of Agnes' accident? Then as the truth started to unfold and the plot began to twist I enjoyed seeing Hannah in a new light and the shift from "Mystery/Thriller book" to a story of mental health.

That being said, I do have a few pet peeves with this book

Firstly the title phrase "A Danger To Herself and Others" was over utilized throughout the book. It was thrown in at least once every chapter and just felt like overkill...we get it.

I don't live with the mental illness discussed in this book so I really can't speak on the accuracy of its depiction. I've also never been institutionalized so once again... I can't speak on the accuracy. I do however wish that there were more specifics regarding Hannah's diagnosis? What exactly is she now living with? I feel like it was hinted at but never actually given the name. That might just be a personal issue and it's a very small one it just made Hannah's illness feel... I don't know general.

Not a ton seemed to happen in this book. Most of it takes place in her room. Most of her encounters with others, most of  if not all of the revelations. I know if she was deemed a "Danger To Herself and Others" (lol now I'M doing it) she probably wouldn't be allowed to interact with too many others. I just wish there was maybe more time of her earning and even losing privileges . Also, the revelations and plot twists seemed to happen sort of quickly. Once again I can't speak on the accuracy of the treatment or even how the medication works but it just seemed... fast.

For the most part I thought this was a good read. I enjoy mental health books and despite the fact that I could've used a bit more plot wise, I found Hannah interesting and wish her the best (the way it ended kind of left me sad)
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