Cover Image: A Danger to Herself and Others

A Danger to Herself and Others

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

"Hannah Gold doesn’t belong in a place like this. Hannah Gold wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Okay, I have to say it, if you’re going to describe a book as “Girl, Interrupted” meets “We Were Liars”… You really need to bring it. Those are both very dark stories and to be a combination of the two, you really need to take a chance and just go for it. Mess with our heads. And I just feel like this story is far too safe for that description. And that’s not to say I didn’t like it. I did. I just thought there could be more. 

After a tragic accident this summer leaves her roommate critically injured, Hannah finds herself institutionalized. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn't a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.

“I smile again, this time for real. 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.”

Hannah is DIABOLICAL. I found her to be very interesting and as someone who really enjoys dialogue WAY more than inner monologues, I still found her POV to be very engaging. I loved how Hannah seems like your ordinary overachiever, but you can sense something is not quite right.

“Luckily, I know how to become someone’s best friend. It’s a skill I’ve honed since kindergarten.”

And her parents are garbage. Honestly, THAT was one of the more tragic parts. 

I really liked the beginning. It is so strong and so well paced. The beginning is a beautiful slow burn, with little crumbs of the truth peppered throughout, just enough detail to know something is not quite right, but not enough to really guess what’s going on. It was so truly amazing. 

The second half felt way too rushed. The beginning is so wonderful, but then it’s like the author was told you have to keep this to x number of pages and she realized she used too much time already and to fit in the rest it’s going to have to be shoe-horned in.

Overall, I liked this story. I liked the characters and the plot. I liked the way the author was able to slowly show something just isn’t quite right without being too apparent, just seeds of doubt.. I thought the ending was too rushed but with an extra 50 – 100 pages (there is that much that could have been really delved into), the story could have gone from a 3 star to a 4 star for me. 

Thank you to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Fire for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A Danger to Herself and Other by Alyssa Sheinmel

Hannah is an intelligent and mature young lady, but is also a little bit unlikeable. She can seem a bit arrogant at times and often thinks of herself as better than others (although she recognizes her perceived superiority and tries to actively hide it from others so they aren’t uncomfortable around her). 

Hannah may or may not have done something to her roommate Agnes that caused her serious injury. As a result Hannah is placed in an institution for evaluation. This book tells the story of Hannah’s time in the institution as well as explaining her backstory, particularly the period of time leading up to Agnes’ accident.

Hannah really has no good idea why she is in an institution for evaluation. She knows she isn’t crazy. Being the intelligent young woman she is, Hannah thinks about a psychology experiment in the early 1970s that she read about where some psychologists were able to get themselves admitted to a mental hospital after claiming they were hearing voices. Once they are admitted and diagnosed with a mental illness, the psychologist “patients” tell their therapists that they are not actually insane and begin to act completely normally. But, no matter what they do, their behavior on the “inside” is always viewed via the lens of mental illness. The “patients” were admitted into the institution so they must be crazy, right?  Hannah believes this exact same situation is now happening to her. So her focus is to prove she is completely fine and that this is all a big mistake. 

Hannah was a well-written unreliable narrator. As we discover Hannah’s story through her thoughts, her discussions with Lucy (her roommate at the institution), and her therapy sessions with Dr. Lightfoot, we are lead down a path of wrong turns and rabbit holes. However, the reader will begin to realize what is going on at exactly the same moment that Hannah does. It is almost as if the reader is going through the therapy with her.  

I don’t feel like I should say too much more about this book. Based on the title and the myriad other reviews available for this book it is clear that Hannah has some issues, but the reader should discover those issues for themselves, not via my review. However, I will mention a few other things I really liked about the book. I was impressed with Hannah’s doctor. While Hannah did not respect her much (particularly in the beginning) it was clear that Dr. Lightfoot really did want to help Hannah. I thought the emphasis on the benefits of quality therapy and medication (or combinations thereof) as well as the focus on self-realization (Hannah finally understanding herself what was going on vs. simply being told) was well done.

POSSIBLE SPOILER – DO NOT READ THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON’T WANT A SPOILER. I also loved how Hannah actually noticed several things throughout the book that gave her clues to her own mental state, but she always rationalized them away. For example, Hannah thought it was odd that Lucy was always in the room when she had therapy sessions with Dr. Lightfoot. Hannah just believed that Dr. Lightfoot had no respect for confidentiality. Hannah couldn’t understand why Lucy returned to the institution after she escaped for her audition, but she accepted Lucy’s explanation that it was just easier to come back. Hannah also wondered why Jonah (a recent boyfriend) never gave her his phone number, but she rationalized that they just lived a few doors from each other and they didn’t need phone numbers, right? So many clues to what was going on that Hannah herself actually noticed, but didn’t pay attention to. That is why it is a mental illness I guess. Some brains work entirely differently than others and Hannah’s brain allowed her to experience the world she needed to experience. END POSSIBLE SPOILER!

Ultimately this is a book about mental illness, mental health and accepting who you are. The ending was a bit sad, and I kind of wish her parents weren’t depicted the way they were; however, that doesn’t really detract from the story. I can’t say it was an enjoyable read – hard to enjoy someone struggling with mental illness – but it was a well-written story that is worth reading.

Thank you Netgalley and Sourebooks Fire for a free electronic ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel ⭐⭐⭐💫⠀
• genre: young adult contemporary thriller⠀
Hannah Gold is an intelligent, driven, 17-year old upcoming senior from New York City who has always been treated like an adult by her wealthy parents. Determined to improve her college applications, she is spending her summer in a study program in California. During a game of Truth or Dare her friend and roommate, Agnes, falls from a window and ends up in a coma. Hannah finds herself locked in a room at a treatment facility where she is being evaluated to determine if she is 'a danger to herself and others'. Hannah is sure this is a misunderstanding and she will be released in time for her to make it back to New York for the first day of school. After all, it was just an accident. ⠀
I found this story to be incredibly readable, and it kept me engaged in Hannah's story as she tells about her interactions with the doctors and other patients at the facility, her boyfriend Jonah, and her relationships with her parents and her friends growing up. Through Hannah's unreliable narration we find out that there is more to the story of how and why she is being held at this high-security institution. It is clear that something is wrong, and this page-turner leads us, along with Hannah, on a fast-paced journey to discover the answers. ⠀
*content warning* There is discussion of mental illness, anorexia, bulimia, and a short description of someone trying to hurt themselves. ⠀
This title is being published Feb 5, and I do recommend it for readers who enjoy young adult mystery, quick-read thrillers, and unreliable narrators. I received an eARC of this book through NetGalley. ⠀
Was this review helpful?
This book was not what I expected, I expected more of a thriller/twisty novel and while this had some of that it was not the sole attributes. I saw many of the twists as they happened so it was a little formulaic but the ending was really well done.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you so much to Sourcebooks Fire Publishing for providing me with a Digital Readers Copy, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. The quotes included in this review are subject to change upon publication.

A Danger to Herself and Others is about a 17-year-old girl, Hannah Gold, who is admitted into a mental hospital on a court order after an incident occurs with her and her roommate Agnes Smith at their summer school. As we learn more about Hannah, we start to discover that her information may not be reliable and slowly start to see her mental health deteriorate. 

“Funny thing about lies. When someone doesn’t believe you, you feel like you have the moral high ground. How dare they accuse you of lying?”

Alyssa creates this point of view strictly through Hannah’s eyes and mind. In the beginning Hannah is portrayed as this strong, confident girl that was wrongly accused of being involved in an unfortunate incident with her best friend Agnes. As the story goes deeper into Hannah’s mind, I started to question Hannah’s sanity. While being questioned by Dr. Charan, also known as Dr. Lightfoot, we start to see inconsistencies in Hannah’s stories versus the information Dr. Lightfoot has obtained. We start to see Hannah’s mental health decline, and experience her struggle as she begins to realize what is happening to her.

“Everything we think and feel, every habit and movement, every personality trait and quirk: It’s all a result of our brains. Maybe it’s nature, maybe it’s nurture–but whoever we are, we are because of our brains are what they are.”

Hannah’s story was an interesting read but I did not love the style of writing. The book is a slow burn all the way through, and I kept waiting for something huge to happen, yet when Hannah begins to piece together what is happening to her, that is a slow burn process as well. What I did gather from this story is, there are many steps that she goes through in her realization of having a mental illness, and repeats those steps quite often throughout. If you are a fan of stories such as, Girl Interrupted, I think that you will enjoy this story.
Was this review helpful?
Hanna Gold is in a mental institution. But she isn’t supposed to be there, obviously. There was an accident during an innocent game of Truth or Dare with her roommate. The doctors will figure it out soon enough..
I couldn’t put this book down - I had to keep reading to find out why the MC was  a danger to herself and others . And we definitely find out. In a skillfully done and authentic way. While this story is a page-turner, it was also an interesting portrayal of mental illness. It was smartly done and engaging. Recommended.
Was this review helpful?
This was a JOURNEY! I was so enthralled in this story. Hannah is such an unreliable narrator—I never knew what to believe. What was real life? Was she lying and manipulative, especially with her friendships? Or was she actually sincere? I read this in mostly one sitting because I had to keep peeling back Hannah's psyche to get to her true self. I wish the author would have actually said her diagnosis out loud. It's always mentioned as Hannah's "disorder", or her "disease". I think it would benefit readers to put a name to her disease, making her experience feel more real. The authors note is really important, so important that I think it may be more useful at the beginning of the book. 

My biggest issues: I felt like the author overly explained parts of the institute. I realize that it's a way to ground the reader but it got a little much. For example, overtly explaining that there were no knives in the cafeteria so no one gets hurt. I feel like the reader can infer that on their own. Also, the repetition of the title is a little on the nose. If the usage had been separated throughout the book it would have a bigger impact.

All in all, i think this was a gripping story about a topic of mental health that is rarely explored with this much detail.

I was sent this e-arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?
4 stars

* I received an ARC of this book via netgalley however this in no way influenced my opinion.* 

I really loved this book, it had me hooked from the beginning. It is about a teenager called Hannah who finds herself institutionalised after her friend Agnes falls from the window of the dorm they were sharing at summer school and falls into a coma. Hannah has to wait and see if she will be held responsible for what happened to Agnes. Hannah is an unreliable narrator as she takes us through the events of what happened leading up to Agnes accident and what happened after, she comments a few times that she is lying. I was so invested in finding out why Hannah was there and what happened with Agnes. The characters are what made this novel for me, Hannah could be so calculating and determined to get what she wanted. In the end the mystery was never solved of what really happened that night with Agnes which I personally think makes the story stand out more. My heart broke for Hannah when she realised that Jonah and Lucy were hallucinations. The last chapter was emotional and brutal, it really stuck with me.

Overall I really enjoyed everything about this especially the characters, Hannah was ambitious and I honestly felt so sorry for her, I found Hannah’s parents to be infuriating. This book made me feel so many emotions. One thing I have to say is I found the writing to be a bit simplistic but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.
Was this review helpful?
This was not what I was expecting at all! I don’t quite know how to put into words how addictive this book was, I was so engaged in the story that I just wanted to know what would happen next. In terms of it not being what I expected, I can’t say too much, because I don’t want to spoil anyone, but there were a lot of surprising twists and turns in this book, that I never even saw coming. When I thought that we’d gotten past a huge reveal, another one would pop up, and this was probably a big part of why I was so hooked. I’m a massive  fan of books where the protagonist is an unreliable narrator and there’s some sort of mystery, so reading from Hannah’s perspective was a real treat for me, as I had to constantly play this guessing game about whether I believed anything she was saying. With the most noticeable question mark being over whether she had a hand in what happened to her roommate Agnes, who is now suffering a brain injury from the ‘accident’.

Hannah’s is probably one of the most compelling point of views that I’ve read from, as she is very unique in her way of thinking, which will most likely not be to everybody’s taste. I must admit that I struggled to get into the book in that opening chapter or so, as Hannah’s thoughts are quite dense, but once I got to grips with the writing style and Hannah’s voice, I just found her fascinating. Like I said, it’s not clear whether Hannah hurt Agnes or not, Hannah insists that it was an accident and yet, she’s been put away in a psychiatric hospital with the infamous tag line may be ‘a danger to herself and others’ now attached to her. Hannah is kept pretty much in isolation, eating in her room instead of the cafeteria with the other girls, not having showering or outside privileges and generally left to her own devices. This means that Hannah has a lot of time to think, and boy does she think! It’s quite clear that Hannah is a very intelligent individual, not just academically, but in how she navigates the world in general. She knows just what to say to please people (like her parents and their friends), befriend people and ultimately manipulate people. Hannah even befriends girls at school who aren’t considered anything special, because she knows that she can make them into something special. This quality in particular is what I found so interesting about her, sometimes it would be truly unnerving just how manipulative and calculating she was, but then other times it was almost laughable.

I wasn’t really sure what to make of Hannah at first, because as I said, she’s unreliable and is the only point of view that we have in the book, so essentially, everything that we learn comes from her. There are some things that we do learn are certainly true though, like the fact that Hannah’s parents are very well off and that she had an unconventional childhood, which has probably contributed to her current state. Hannah’s parents are extremely rich and so throughout Hannah’s childhood there were many trips taken to the furthest and most exotic of places. But instead of leaving their child with a babysitter or hiring one to accompany them, they carted Hannah around with them. Even at the age of five and maybe even younger, Hannah was given her own hotel room, where she would stay until her parents came back from wherever it is they’d go, sometimes not even checking on her until morning. This is obviously very wrong, but through Hannah’s eyes she just sees it as her parents loved her so much, that they took her everywhere with them and they have this inside joke among them that she was ‘born mature’. To me at least, this is where Hannah learned what was expected of her and how to please people, when other parents were fussing with their kids, Hannah would sit perfectly still, eat what she was given and make herself ‘disappear’ when the adults had tired of how precocious she was. This made me feel so sorry for Hannah as I could see the undeniable connection to her present situation. As the book progresses though and Hannah starts to ‘fake’ her way through her therapy, she starts to realise that her childhood wasn’t okay and she stops just excepting everything about her parents, really looking at them in a way she hadn’t before.

The writing in this was fantastic, as although I felt like I couldn’t fully grasp Hannah (with her being so unreliable), I still felt like I understood what she was saying a lot of the time and actually ended up caring about her. Hannah’s high intelligence and somewhat paranoia, meant that she had a lot of opinions on what was happening to her at this psychiatric hospital, and on the world in general. First of all, Hannah doesn’t even think that there’s anything wrong with her mentally and that this whole thing is one big misunderstanding, because she also thinks she never pushed Agnes. So she immediately distrusts the staff and constantly believes that they are trying to trick her into thinking that she’s ill, she’s so paranoid, that she’s even done a number of checks for cameras in her room. She then begins pointing out the things that she thinks they’re doing to manipulate her, like the different tactics her therapist uses on her. However, when she realises that if she seemingly cooperates, she’ll probably get to leave sooner, she does just that. She is shocked when she gets a roommate as she knows that they consider her to possibly be ‘a danger to herself and others’, but her being as calculating as she is, she seizes the opportunity to appear to be getting better, by making friends with this Lucy.

After Lucy comes is where things really start to unravel and truths spill out from every direction. Through trying to befriend Lucy, in order to appear more stable, Hannah starts to notice certain things that don’t add up. This takes a toll on her mental health and her therapy starts to become more serious, to her and her therapist, as Hannah starts to think that there may actually be something going on with her. As the book progresses, in the lead up to Hannah’s trial regarding Agnes, we eventually learn what has really been going on with her and I was literally gob-smacked. Part of me was doubting whether it could really be true, because Hannah was so convinced of everything, that I ended up being too, so I was completely shocked. This was a truly uncomfortable at times, but riveting story that takes a very honest look at mental health, although the author has used some creative license, so something’s aren’t completely accurate. This book really made me think and feel, as the storyline was gripping, the characters were so real and the writing was tremendous. I urge everyone to read it, because it’s amazing and because I just want to hear about other people’s experiences with it.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley, Sourcefire Books, and Alyssa Sheinmel for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

- Unreliable narrator: Normally, I’m not a fan of unreliable narrators, but in this book I enjoyed it.
- Your opinion of the main character’s situation changes as you get more information.
- Shows a fairly realistic portrayal of forced inpatient psychiatric stay

- Can really feel her feelings through the writing: the panic, confusion, and desperation is evident
- Quick read
- Had to keep reading to find out what happens
- Book about mental health diagnosis that’s rarely written about
- The little clues that are left along the way for the reader and Hannah to figure out 

- That the staff could be manipulated/bribed by the patients 
- Her family wasn’t that supportive
- The circumstances that sent Hannah to the facility 

Wish that: 
- There’s another book to show how Hannah copes with the real world 
- Could see the circumstances from Hannah’s doctor’s point of view occasionally 

Overall, a great book about mental health and all the challenges that can come with first being diagnosed. An interesting story that I absolutely flew through.
Was this review helpful?
Not a push. Just a little tap.

Have you ever picked up a book not having expectations, not expecting it to bad but also not expecting it to be great, and then it turns out to be a book you devour? Yeah, that was this book for me. I'm still shocked at how much I loved this book!

Alyssa Sheinmel's writing of A Danger To Herself And Others was exquisite, so unlike anything I've read. The writing felt so raw and natural. I felt I was truly sitting in the mind of someone suffering from a psychosis disorder. I'm not claiming the book was a true fabrication inside the head of a person truly dealing with this reality, but for the first time I was seeing it through the eyes of the sufferer. 

Hannah had such "rational" reasonings for her actions. She's smart, quick witted, sassy, dramatic, and all the things you'd expect from a NYC Upper Eastside teenage girl. It wasn't like the movies where everyone and everything is "crazy". This book takes you on the journey of terrifying real life disorders. Through the mind of someone coping with who they are and what they have to live with. It's simply imperfectly perfect.

I will be recommending this book to everyone! This book now holds a special place in my bookish heart!

Thank you so much to Netgalley & Sourcebooks Fire for this advanced readers copy!
Was this review helpful?
It has been a long time since a book has my mind asking what or who is real while I was reading. Several times I had to go back and search and see if I remembered correctly because I learned early on Hannah is extremely unreliable when it comes to recalling events. A danger to herself and others is a YA and it was done so well. The story was so good, you forget it is a 17 year old narrating. I strongly suggest going in blind and take on this wild ride.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really interesting experience. Because Hannah is an unreliable narrator, the story keeps you on your toes with various twists and turns. I loved how the story is entirely told in her perspective - even if she’s not the kindest protagonist there is, she felt real. At first, I was mostly intrigued by her character, but by the end sympathized with her. Though the plot is very slow-paced and character-driven, I never once felt bored.
Thanks to the publisher for the ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I absoutely enjoyed every page of this book. In the beginning I got this feeling of really not liking the main character, Hannah. The way she speaks about her intelligence came off extremely arrogant. Yet, I also believed everything she said to the reader about the incident with her most recent best friend Agnes. She may have been unlikeable, but didn't come off the least bit unrealiable...until later!

After reading for a while I realized that Hannah wasn't as reliable as I thought she was. I began to feel sort of bad for her. As her interactions with her therapist got deeper, I just wanted to reach into the book and give Hannah a big hug as what she knew as her reality crumbled to the ground. 

What I loved most about this book was the amazing portrayal of mental illnees. If you've read previous reviews I've written about books regarding mental illness you know I take this very seriously. I've read many books that don't quite speak about a character's struggle mental illness accurately. Sheinmel absolutely hits the nail on the head with this one. 

Another bonus is how fast-paced and short the chapters are! I couldn't justify putting it down because I knew the next chapter would only be a few pages. This is how I found myself awake at 2AM forcing myself to put the kindle down and get some sleep. LOL
Was this review helpful?
This book was very predictable. That being said it was also very enjoyable. This book was a very quick read and kept my attention to the very end. It also lends itself to a sequel. I would recommend this book to others. However I don’t feel asl though I need to purchase and keep in my collection.
Was this review helpful?
This book proved to be a very interesting and thoughtful read. Hannah, the main character, has been placed on an involuntary hold at a psychiatric hospital after the death of her roommate, Agnes. Hannah doesn't fear her circumstance because she holds her truth certain: that she didn't do anything wrong. It was a tragic accident. However, in order for her to go home, Hannah has to play along with the doctors and nurses in order to get them to see she isn't crazy. In order to do that, she sets about making friends with her roommate Lucy - so she can show the doctor on staff the kind of girl she REALLY is. 

Lucy becomes the key - the crux of this story - she will be what helps Hannah recognize the circumstance and be able to make the necessary break-throughs in order to find her way out of her circumstance and back home.

This book at times, made me very uncomfortable - which is a testament to the author because she proves very adept at painting a picture of the atmosphere within the hospital, within Hannah's four walls, and inside Hannah's mind. I had no trouble imagining what Hannah was feeling, or seeing, or experiencing thanks to the depth of those descriptions. Sometimes I didn't want to imagine it - as what Hannah goes through is traumatic and mind-bending. 

I would definitely read other books by this author.
Was this review helpful?
I received a copy of this book through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

God this book was awful. Downright boring and dreadful. Hannah’s diagnosis came as no surprise, nothing eventful happened. One of the worst books I’ve ever read. Yes, I realize I’ve said that twice already in different forms but, woof. I really wish I could get the last 3 hours back and read something else.

Now don't get me wrong, the writing was fine. It's the story and the fact that it mostly takes place in one setting between two characters that is just awful. Most of the book is hannah talking to Dr. Lightfoot. Its pretty obvious from the minute "a danger to herself AND OTHERS" is stated in the book, what's really up with Hannahs mental stated when they give her a roomate even though "SHES A DANGER TO HERSELF AND OTHERS". I mean come on.

The back and forth conversations throughout 80% of the book about hannahs mental state was a flop. We could have at least had more flashbacks to her time with Agnes, or more breakdowns from Hannah. But nope.

Capital crime has been committed in this book.
Now let me say this first - I don't give a good hot dang how long a book has been out. You DO NOT SPOIL OTHER BOOKS! The author COMPLETELY freaking spoils the plot of Jane Eyre and is bold in doing so. Even goes as far as to point by point tell you the major moments in the book. I for one have not read the book yet, and it is something I would have liked to have done. So thanks for completely unearthing the plot for me.
Was this review helpful?
This was incredible. I don't really know what I was expecting when I first started it, but it wasn't this, this was way better than I imagined... It was hard, powerful and emotional. I just couldn't put it down!

Hannah is the best unreliable narrator I've read about... For the first time someone is more unreliable than Yaz from Things We Have in Common and I freaking love it! I adore reading about unreliable narrators and Hannah was just amazing. I don't wanna give too much away about this book because I think it's the perfect book to go blind into. But as you might have guessed already, it's developed around a particular mental illness, and I can't really be specific about which one. But I do have to talk a bit about Hannah. She is an incredibly strong, intelligent and not very likable person, really. She was the type of person one would think  "she must think she is better than me" and that is normally not likable, right? Well, no matter what, I actually really ended up liking her anyway! She might not be likable but the more you get to know her, it turned it impossible for me not to grew attached to her. 

That said, Hannah is a character you will slowly start to like and understand and it's 100% worth it! This book is quite emotional, realistic and utterly sad, but it made me see things in a new light. Not that I see things differently now (no pun intended) but because I actually never thought about a person going through something like Hannah is going through. It's scary, it truly is, and I could feel that. Mental health is not something to take lightly, and this book talks about a particular mental illness that I've never read about, and to be honest, a really interesting one. It's just so complex and different! But if you wanna know more, you will have to read the book, because that's all I'm gonna say.

I found this book really captivating and gripping and I absolutely loved the theme and how the story was written. It shows how a lot of people take metal illness like something stupid, or wrong. But on the other hand, it shows that anything is possible even if you have a mental illness - it might be difficult, but it is possible to achieve as much as you want in life (at least in some cases). It's a hard book for how realistic it is, but it's also helluva exciting and quite a fast read. I would definitely recommend it!
Was this review helpful?
A riveting read that grabbed me from the beginning. I loved the character of Hannah Gold and that the entire story was told from her perspective it. I didn't see the twists coming. The author told this story with compassion and it was nice to read the author's note at the end. I would love to read more books by this author!
Was this review helpful?
Review posted on Goodreads and on The Nerd Daily (closer to publication day).

Alyssa B. Sheinmel’s latest book, A Danger to Herself and Others, is a young adult dark contemporary book about mental health, about people’s prejudices, but also about gradually learning to accept yourself as you are.

Hannah Gold has been wrongly accused of hurting her best friend from summer camp and sent to a mental health institute to be diagnosed, even if she’s sure she shouldn’t be there with real patients.

"Of course, the other patients are here because there’s actually something wrong with them. I’m only here because of a misunderstanding, so there’s no need for me to panic."

However the reader knows something’s up from the first chapters of this novel. Hannah is in fact an unreliable narrator, and the book is told exclusively from her perspective. That’s why reading A Danger to Herself and Others was interesting, entertaining, and a challenge in itself.

"I gaze out the window. […] There are redwood trees as far as I can see, and when the fog gets thick, it condenseson the needlelike leaves and drips onto the roof. It sounds like rain, but it isn’t. 
It’s not true that I can only see a few plants from here. We’re actually in the middle of a forest.
I was lying before."

This book has an excellent mental health representation. The main character spends almost all her days inside a single room and has daily meetings with her therapist. This way the reader gets to really understand how Hannah’s head works and why she has certain goals in her life. At the beginning she can even come out as a creepy character, for example when she seems determined to make new best friends with every girl who has something in common with her.

She is also calculative, determined to obtain what she wants, and she is not scared to use other people in the process. This is why the institute assigning her a roommate, Lucy, seems like a bad decision. However, her friendship with Lucy is going to end up influencing Hannah’s recovery in unexpected ways.

The represented mental illness is finally seen with different eyes in this book. A Danger to Herself and Others: there’s a reason behind the title and you’ll be reminded about it quite a lot (maybe too many times), but in the end it’s there to explain you that people with mental illnesses are not “crazy” or “not normal”. Their brains just work in different ways, and it’s not because of that that we should treat them differently and have prejudices against them. 
Ignorant people are scared of what people with mental illnesses could do to them, but it turns out they are more a danger to themselves and they are confused about what they should feel. As a result, they should be loved more than ever.

"But can you really call it sanity when it isn’t real, it isn’t natural, it’s chemically induced? When it doesn’t technically belong to me because I wouldn’t have it without the pills they keep giving me?
Maybe I’ll never know for certain what’s real, what’s madness, what’s the medication."

All the characters shine in this book. All of them have their round personality and goals. I particularly found Hannah’s closeminded parents to be very unlikeable and vexing, but that’s why they stood out so much.
I also enjoyed the writing style a lot, as it was quick and simple, but not too much. It really showed Hannah’s personality.

The plot was the weakest part of this novel, instead. While the mental illness representation and the acceptance process were really well done, the rest wasn’t as exciting. The reader is left with Hannah’s thoughts for the entirety of the book, and only a few major plot points happen. Sometimes she wanders a bit too much with her thoughts when there’s no reason to be given that information. This can lead the reader to feel bored, even if the writing style never lets you put the book down. The “mystery” also wasn’t exactly a mystery as it was advertised.

In conclusion, this book is highly recommended to people who are tired of seeing mental illnesses romanticized and want to see good YA representation instead.

"That’s just my imagination, not a hallucination.
That’s okay."

Thank you to The Nerd Daily, Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for this ARC.
Was this review helpful?