A Danger to Herself and Others

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

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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I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. As I read this, I knew the MC was... off but I didn’t guess what exactly it was. It was an emotional roller coaster and definitely worth the read.
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A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel is a thought provoking almost psychological thriller. I’m sure it would fit in nicely with young adult general fiction though it has the added depth of a little bit of mystery. It’s backbone is a serious look into mental health, though it is completely fiction. It is a good book, I enjoyed it and it kept me engaged, it just fell a little flat for me.

The characters don’t seem to be very diverse and in a whole are generally unlikable. The main character, Hannah Gold, is exactly what you expect her to be by the end of the book, pitiable but dark. The book seems to suggest that even without her mental illness she would have had a Villanous personality. This is where the slight lean toward thriller comes in. I hope that given that lean the book doesn’t create or perpetuate a stigma for mental illness.

Hannah’s parents seem to be stuck up, despicable people. I really hate them as characters. All the other characters are pretty cardboard, except Lucy, I liked Lucy. Lucy is my favorite. 😄

That being said the plot is great. It was captivating enough to make up for the supporting character’s flatness. Imagine being thrust into a mental facility without really knowing why. Discovering that you have an illness that makes you question who you are. Not having the short you should given the situation. It would be pretty rough, right?

So my little bookings if your looking for a book to read that will make you think and has a deeper subject look no further. Yes, I do recommend A Danger to Herself and Others.

I give this book a 3.5 our of 5 stars.

A great big thanks goes to NetGally for allowing me to read this Arc for a fair and honest review.
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A thrilling and heartfelt story about finding about and coming to terms with mental illnesses and learning to accept it.

The story follows Hannah Gold after she is admitted to the psychiatric ward following her involvement with her roommate’s fall from the window during summer school. As the story progresses, Hannah starts to realize she’s not what she thinks she is and has to accept it.

The book starts off in a captivating way, immediately pulling you in the narrative and into Hannah’s mind. Hannah is a relatable character from the very beginning but also an unreliable one. From the start, she keeps denying that her roommate’s fall was her fault and that she had any reason to be in the mental hospital. And at first, she can convince the readers as well.

As the story progressed, I had a lot of theories of what might be going on with Hannah and I was wrong. The plot takes a very unpredictable turn. It’s both engaging and shocking. But Hannah’s character takes 180 degree turn as well when she starts helping her roommate Lucy. From the beginning, Hannah is shown to be narcissistic and even unempathetic but then she suddenly will risk her privileges to help her roommate which doesn’t make much sense and messes up the consistency of her character.

The inconsistent character development seemed to be a product of Sheinmel trying too hard to keep Hannah an unreliable character and keep the readers questioning who Hannah truly is and whether she really should be in the hospital. But it only ended up being confusing and hard to keep up with.

Even though Hannah’s mental illnesses felt unnecessarily mystified, I liked how this book had positive psychosis representation. Sure, it didn’t cover any of the emotions related to finding out your own diagnosis for the first time besides confusion and denial, but it was still a good rep to help people empathize with those with psychosis. Unlike mainstream media, Sheinmel shows Hannah’s psychosis as it is–a messed up reality where you question everything, instead of something that makes you unstable and violent.

The story seemed to stretch for too long. The characters were strong but the plot was unnecessarily long. I felt like I was just reading and flipping through the pages without going anywhere. It keeps the readers spiraling into Hannah’s memories which makes sense in the last few chapters, but I still feel like this book could convey the whole story and its message without almost half of the scenes.

Overall, it was a great read that shed light on psychosis and made an effort to show people with psychosis positively.
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*A big thanks to Netgalley and publisher for this ARC inexchange for a honest review*
 
It is one my anticipated book this Feb and I'm sooo glad that I finished this book! A Danger to Herself and Others is a YA thriller that focuses the story of a teenage girl, Hannah Gold, who is placed in a psychiatric hospital where she will be studied by the doctor because the accident happened to her roommate, Agnes, who is her best friend. The question left unanswered: Does really Hannah Gold killed Agnes?

This book really give me to think for what really happened. It's pretty twisted and also, there are some parts that really confuses me so... I repeat some chapters to make some clearance. I don't want to miss a THING! So anyway, the story goes like we're in Hannah's mind, and she quickly planned on how she dwell to her doctor, as well as the rules in the hospital without breaking it. She was sent there because the authorities thinks she's crazy and accusing her for what happened to her best friend. Hannah thinks she’s not crazy and I love her optimism while she’s in the hospital. She always believes in herself that she will get out, going to see her best friend again and going again trips with her parents. Her doctor studies her very carefully and everything before the day she’ll be judged.

The story got more interesting when Lucy came by! Oh, I love Lucy! She’s a ballet dancer and because of her, it shows the friendly side of Hannah which I understand her side more in the story. Hannah is so passionate to Lucy, she even help her even though it’s risky and she knows the consequences! That’s what friends are for! :D
Overall, the story is captivating and interesting. My heart just skip a beat after what happened in the ending, it’s really unexpected. I wish it could be continued! I’m hoping the author will write more about mental illnesses because she’s really good at it. I understand every side of the story, both Hannah and Agnes. I really adore the author for writing this!
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This was one of those books where if you have no idea at all what your reading about when you start, it'll take you a while to figure it out.  (Well, it also takes a while even with this).  You know there's a mystery going on (not in the traditional sense, exactly- in the "we don't know large pieces of the story" sense)- the protagonist (Hannah) is being admitted to what appears to be a mental hospital in the first few pages.  And she keeps thinking about an unclear "something" that happened with her recent best friend and summer roommate, Agnes.

I will say that although the author got some things wrong about pysch hospitals, however it was generally good on that.  And I liked how she had these twists that- weren't expected but made sense and "fit" well.
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*Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC of this title!*
What happened to Hannah's roommate was an accident. Just an accident! She fell out a window while playing truth or dare. And Hannah absolutely does not belong in this mental institution, or whatever they're calling it. She is just waiting until everything gets figured out, and she can go home. They're keeping her isolated because her chart says she's "a danger to herself and others," but really, it's all a big mistake. But there has to be a reason they've given her a roommate. Maybe she can prove to them that she's normal, after all.

My notes: I really wanted to like this, and it wasn't bad, but it was also fairly predictable. I wouldn't call it a "thriller." I will absolutely pick up other books by this author, though!
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A Danger to Herself and Others is a thoroughly enjoyable YA thriller about a teen girl placed in a psychiatric institution after an accident put her summer roommate in a coma. Hannah is a smart, witty character and I found her to be very sympathetic. I enjoyed the twists, the unreliable narrator, and [ the ultimately positive view of mental health providers. It is hinted that [ parental neglect might have been a factor in triggering Hannah's mental state, which is something that deserves to be talked about more in YA literature. 

I imagine that avid readers in the genre might not be surprised by the twists (I am not an avid thriller reader and I did figure some things out before the end), but while this may not be groundbreaking I thought it was well-executed. The author builds a sense of tension throughout the book and I found myself feeling very connected to Hannah and rooting for her. 

The details of what it is like inside such an institution is painted in vivid detail, not in an unrealistic or problematic way but in a way that demonstrates its departure from the wider world. Her therapist is also a great character who is fleshed out as time goes on. At the end of the book [ I was truly concerned for Hannah's continued safety give the awful parents she has.. The author does a great job of demonstrating how neglect can be abuse, and can exist even in the midst of great privilege. 

Overall, my reading experience of this was enjoyable and I think the author is doing important work with this story. I received an advance copy for review via NetGalley.
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This was a very compelling read with a great turn of pace that I really appreciated. It tells the story of Hannah Gold, a precocious teen who is institutionalised for a psychiatric evaluation following an accident involving her best friend. Hannah was such an interesting character to follow. She is manipulative, calculating and quite devious and we know that something about the way she talks about people suggests a coldness to her character that is troubling. The setting is obviously disturbing and the flashbacks to her relationships with her parents and her friends certainly raised red flags. There is a turning point about two thirds of the way through which was very well done and all in all, I thought that this was a very compelling and well written narrative.
I received a free copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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'A Danger to Herself and Others' is a compelling YA story about mental illness. 

It’s the summer before senior year, and Hannah is in California at an intensive study program. Everything is going great until Hannah’s roommate, Agnes, falls out of a second story window playing a game of Truth or Dare, and Hannah finds herself locked in a mental institution. The authorities think she made have been responsible for the accident. They say she is a danger to herself & others, but it wasn’t her fault, and she is sure once the misunderstanding is cleared up they will release her.

The story is told from Hannah’s POV; you’re in Hannah’s head and only see her realities. Because of this there were times I felt things were slightly off or not realistic, but as the story moves along and details are revealed, it starts to become clear, and I understood why things were the way they were.

Things get more interesting when Lucy, who becomes Hannah’s new BFF, is brought to the institution, and Hannah starts focusing on Lucy's problems. Lucy is a ballerina and has an eating disorder. There is an important audition she needs to get to, but she's stuck in the institution. Hannah wants to help Lucy, and it won't hurt if the doctor sees what a good friend Hannah can be, right?

I really enjoyed 'A Danger to Herself and Others!' It was fascinating to see how Hannah perceives her situation. The mind is an interesting creature, indeed!
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Representation, representation, representation.
It's really difficult to write a spoiler free review of this book, so rather than focus on the story elements I'm going to focus on my thoughts and feelings as a reader.
First, could it be any creepier? I love the unreliable narrator aspect - and I've rarely seen it executed this well. Hannah is very easy for me to connect and sympathize with. She has a lot of anxiety and coping mechanisms in place throughout the book that honestly seem pretty reasonable. Counting steps? Sure. Not hurting anyone by counting steps. I think that's why I was so blown away by the book. We see everything through Hannah's perspective and she's a worthy narrator.
The masterful storytelling is something that has me really excited to share "A Danger to Herself and Others" with my readers. April Henry fans will devour this book. Heck, I would read it again! (And I'm known for NOT re-reading books.) It's suspenseful, nothing comes out of left field without justification, and just...beautiful. Beautifully written. 
Finally, that ending... I wanted to pull Hannah to me and hug her myself. Her parents were so distant and aloof that I could barely stand it. The author doesn't cave to my need to know Hannah is going to be alright. She lets it dangle in front of me without succumbing to the trend to put a pretty bow on every ending - especially when dealing with mental illness. I am thrilled that this book is in my library's collection and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Most of the story is a compelling mixture of Girl in Pieces, Monday's Not Coming, and Justine Larbalestier's Liar, pushed forward by a fiercely unreliable narrator. While the later chapters are less settled in a way that's slightly uncomfortable, they do reflect a more realistic portrayal of mental illness, which is nearly always requires long term and perhaps indefinite treatment. (I do wonder at the portrayal of mental illness in general: the author's note references some unrealistic aspects of treatment, the entire premise of Hannah's crime plays uncomfortably into the trope of mental illness as significantly dangerous to others, and the consistent references to "Hannah's illness" or "Hannah's diagnosis" rather than actually naming a specific condition seemed a strange evasion. I found myself asking if it had been reviewed by medical professionals and sensitivity readers.) I did find Hannah's parents quite well-drawn, and their relationship added a fascinating element, especially as the background and Hannah's thoughts about them develop.

An interesting new addition, which might appeal to fans of My Sister Rosa.
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This book is addicting! I was hooked from the very first page.
Love the unreliable narrator, and how it keeps you guessing the whole time, just too turn into something way deeper than you expected.
The mental health rep is great, and I love how it was handled. And the ending is heartbreaking.
I give it five stars! Full review linked below
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This book was great. Hannah is stuck in an institution after her roommate, Agnes, falls out a window. Hannah knows this is a mistake and bids her time to prove them, especially her therapist Lightfoot, she is not ill. While there she gets a new roommate, Lucy, who helps her in some very unexpected ways. This book had just the right pace, not too slow and not too fast. The setting could have become slow and boring very fast but didnt. An institution were the same things happen every day at the same time but because Hannah is such an interesting character I didn't get bored. If you like unreliable narrators this one is definitely for you. This is not a who-done-it book but rather a book where you spend most of the time picking out the truth from the lies. I enjoyed this book a lot but the reason it did not get 5 stars from me was because of the anticlimactic ending. It wasn't something I would remember but that does not mean it wasnt a great book. I couldn't get enough of it while reading but I didnt keep thinking about it once I was done with it. 

The writing made this book even better. It was simple and personal. We really got to know Hannah. She was arrogant and witty, having full confidence in herself.  As the book goes on all those things that make Hannah her begin to waver. She goes down a path of self-discovery that sheds a light on many of her actions. 

There aren't many characters other than Hannah and a few side characters. Hannah is the one person we spend our time with, just like she only has herself in that tiny room. Agnes is only ever mentioned and her parents don't appear until the end. That leaves us with Lucy and Lightfoot, the two people Hannah spends most of her time with. Lucy was Hannah's escape route. If she could only show Lightfoot how much of a caring friend she was, she would be able to get out. It was very interesting to see how Hannah approaches a friendship. I do wish we could have seen more memories or interactions with all her other friends. Lightfoot was the constant in Hannah's life in the institute and we get to see her become to care for Hannah. Something her cold parents know nothing about. None of these characters are ever fully developed which made me not care for any of these characters. This was a book solely based on Hannah and her thoughts. 

This was a great story about mental illness and coming to the realization of it. I enjoyed this book immensely and if you do decide to give this a try I hope you do too.
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