Cover Image: A Danger to Herself and Others

A Danger to Herself and Others

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Member Reviews

A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmel is an intriguing young adult novel.

  Seventeen year old Hannah Gold is certain she has been placed in a mental institution by mistake.  She had nothing to do with her roommate and friend Agnes Smith’s accidental fall out of a window. But Agnes’ parents are convinced she is guilty of harming their daughter, so a judge orders Hannah into an institution for further evaluation. At first, Hannah refuses to discuss anything of value with her therapist, Dr. Lightfoot. However, the arrival of her roommate Lucy Quintana is a turning point for Hannah as she finally realizes that in order to earn “privileges”, she has to be honest with Dr. Lightfoot.  With Hannah divulging the events that occurred in the weeks preceding Agnes’s accident,  Dr. Lightfoot makes a shocking diagnosis that completely upends Hannah’s view of herself.  And with the hearing into her role in what happened to Agnes and Hannah’s reunion with her parents fast approaching, is she prepared for how everyone will react to her unexpected diagnosis?

  Hannah is an extremely intelligent, high achieving only child. Her parents have always treated her as an adult, so she is quite mature and very composed. Hannah is very fixated on not falling behind in school but Dr. Lightfoot wants her to concentrate on her therapy. Initially, Hannah is positive that she did not harm Agnes, but after she is placed under observation, self-doubts begin to creep in.  But  why would she have wanted to harm her best friend?

  Lucy’s arrival provides Hannah with a distraction from her own problems. The two girls hit it off fairly quickly and they are soon swapping stories and finding ways to pass the time. Once Hannah realizes Lucy has earned privileges that provide her with a modicum of freedom, she becomes more open with Dr. Lightfoot. But will her gradual self-awareness prepare Hannah for the doctor’s diagnosis?

  A Danger to Herself and Others is a thought-provoking  young adult novel with a somewhat unreliable narrator. The majority of the story takes place mainly in Hannah’s room at the institution so it is easy for readers to empathize with her as she tries to come to terms with her current situation. Despite a bit of repetition, the storyline is interesting and the characters are relatively well-developed. Hannah comes across as a typical teenager, so Dr. Lightfoot’s diagnosis will catch readers off guard.  Alyssa B. Sheinmel deftly handles the subject of mental illness with sensitivity and provides insight into a misunderstood disease. An engaging young adult novel that I recommend to older teen and adult readers.
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A Danger to Herself and Others is a good book. It's brilliantly written, with an decent story line. It's fairly intriguing from start to finish, offering an interesting narrator. But I failed to connect to what I was reading. I loved the writing style, I had an open mind and understanding for the main character, and I enjoyed some moments. But it overall did not wow me. And the ending frustrated me a little.
Maybe I wasn't reading it at the best moment in time, or maybe this book just isn't for me. Kudos on the great writing though, it's what kept me reading all the way through.
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A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel was an absolute whirlwind of a book. Featuring great representation of mental illnesses, this book kept me guessing the whole way through!

In A Danger to Herself and Others, Hannah finds herself in an institution after her school roommate falls out of a window. Hannah knows it's a mistake though--she didn't mean Agnes any harm! So Hannah bides her time in a small little room, waiting for the truth to come to light. While waiting, she's given a new roommate at the institution. Lucy! Through Lucy, Hannah starts down a slippery slope of self-discovery.

I adored A Danger to Herself and Others! This book exceeded my expectations in nearly every way. Fast-paced and interesting, I could have easily read this book in a single sitting.

A Danger to Herself and Others was told from a unique and interesting perspective. I had no idea what to make of Hannah when I first started reading the book. She seemed so smart and level-headed. As the book went on and Lightfoot, Hannah's therapist, was introduced, I started to question what I was reading and what I was seeing through Hannah's eyes. I loved that the book played with my perceptions and forced me to question Hannah's reality. The events had my mind spinning with so many questions!

The ending was sad. I don't think it was meant to be sad, but I found it sad because I didn't care for Hannah's parents. They didn't seem like they really wanted a child. They wanted a trophy, something worth of bragging about. Hannah's childhood, though painted through the lens of a pamper and spoiled life, felt very austere and cold. Nothing about Hannah's parents seemed warm and fuzzy, and to me, that's sad.

That said, the characters in the book were brilliantly written. Hannah was amazing. Lucy was fun. Lightfoot was intriguing. And Hannah's parents were nicely portrayed, even though they didn't have starring roles in the book. I fell in love with the cast of characters, especially Hannah. Hannah was a puzzle in the book, and I was keen to figure her out.

I enjoyed this book immensely, and hopefully you will too! Do yourself a favor and add this one to your TBR.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing the Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

I was taken in by the gorgeous cover on this book when browsing titles to request, and when reading the synopsis I got really excited for the book.

To be quite honest though, this book was not for me. The book is about a girl who accidentally hurts her best friend, and is put into a mental institution as she is a “danger to herself and others” because of this. It is an interesting concept, but the execution didn’t feel sharply done. 

This book needed to be a bit more heavily edited before it went to press. There a few things that could have been improved on to make it more enjoyable. 

The amount of things in parentheses was overdone. Within the first few pages, there was more information being given in parentheses than there was being written. Though parentheses can be helpful occasionally to help bring more information to light, the author did not do this in a way that was beneficial to the story. It was more distracting than it was enlightening.

The sarcastic narrative was not enjoyable to read. A sarcastic narrative is a heavily used one in YA literature, so I feel like the book could have been more impactful had the character been more relatable and enjoyable to read about. Throughout the book she felt very inconsistent, so solidifying Hannah’s personality could have helped the story as well.

Overall, the descriptions made institutions and mental health professionals very stereotyped and awful. Mental health is something that many people today, especially teens, struggle with. By making the main doctor in this book completely incompetent, this sends a very bad message to those dealing with mental health issues who are looking for help. 

I am always excited to see a book with a mental health rep so that people can feel understood and it can bring awareness to the community, but I don’t recommend A Danger to Herself and Others as this rep. 

Please also remember that this review is based on my personal opinion, so you may love the book! It personally just fell really flat for me and did not enjoy it. There was some mystery in the writing and some interesting twists, but I personally did not enjoy it.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Hannah Gold starts as a typical unreliable narrator. She is institutionalized for reasons that are revealed in time, but one thing is clear from the beginning -- Hannah is considered "a danger to herself and others." She is kept isolated, not even leaving her room to use the bathroom. And then Hannah is assigned a roommate, Lucy, and she is determined to form a friendship that will prove to the doctors that she isn't mentally ill. Hannah believes that whatever event lead her to the institution was an accident and a misunderstanding, and she should be released.

I wanted to love this book, but it just didn't do it for me. I felt like pieces of Hannah's psychosis were revealed in the writing, but it was done in a way that made me think, "was that intentional or is the writing just repetitive?" I felt that the book didn't reach it's potential as an unreliable narrator story, nor did it take a deep enough look at a patient and her family coming to terms with her diagnosis. That said, this book will certainly have readers that love it, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to students.
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Truly Breathtaking. The author is able to make you feel for Hannah and the terrible horrible events that lead up to an ending that will have you shaking with excitement. This is a one sitting book and if you plan on reading make sure to clear your schedule
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This is another author I once upon a time one-starred (see The Stone Girl) so I wasn't exactly excited to dive into this. I'm happy to report I'm not giving this one the same rating since I thought this book was incredibly brave and creative—something I've noticed the author seems to often go for (from looking at her previous works after The Stone Girl. So much of mental health is touched, and I felt there was utter respect in the treatment of the story. There were also several twists I wouldn't say I saw coming, so that was enjoyable for me. Recommended for those looking for a suspenseful read, and those looking for unreliable narrators.
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I don't know what I was expecting when I requested this book, but a first-person unreliable narrative was not it. I had no idea what had really happened to get Hannah remanded to the institute, but the back and forth with herself gave me a few insights early on.

This book will pull you in and have you almost believe that you are experiencing things right along with Hannah. I was so sure that Lucy was real and that having a roommate was a great thing for Hannah.

The ending seemed a little rushed, I would have liked Hannah to spend more time in treatment with her original doctor, but I understand wanting to get a child (even though she is now a senior in high school) home and back to a "normal" routine.
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This novel starts readers off in a mental hospital with the main character, Hannah, after a terrible accident that put her summer program roommate into a coma. It’s immediately obvious that the parent’s of Agnes (the now comatose roommate) believe that Hannah is at fault for what happened. Now, Hannah finds herself locked in a room with a small window, no way out, and nothing to do but wait until the doctors and judge realize that “she’s not crazy“.

This story was honestly surprising. I’ve come across many novels written about psychiatric holds, but never one quite like this. Readers are thankfully taking in everything from Hannah’s point of view, so we really get an in depth understanding of what has happened and is continuing to happen. Hannah isn’t an extremely likable narrator. In fact, before I pulled some of the layers back further into the story, I was really frustrated with her. The first couple of chapters felt very chaotic because Hannah’s thoughts jump around a lot. Plus, readers don’t have any background information yet about why she is being held in psychiatric care, so you kind of just have to push through the beginning to find your footing. At first, this kind of feels like a mean-girl story, but from the POV of the mean-girl (which, after racking my brain, I don’t think I’ve read before). Even after finishing, I’m still convinced that Hannah embodies the trope. She’s quite the manipulator, and I don’t think that the idea is supposed to be that these qualities are tied to her mental illness. Actually, I’m pretty positive that they aren’t.

The other characters weren’t given much development, but for most of them, this seems very purposeful and it certainly works for the story. This novel is about Hannah’s journey to discovering her diagnosis and coming to terms with it, so it’s much more important that we see development through her primarily. In a way, some of these characters help. Lucy, for instance, doesn’t have a huge presence throughout at least half of the book, but she is still vastly important to the story and to what Hannah is going through. I think that Sheinmel did a really great job molding all of the characters to make them fit into Hannah’s world.

Now, I’ve never experienced the disease that Hannah has (which I won’t talk about because it pretty much spoils the whole story), so I can’t really say whether or not the representation is accurate or not. However, I will say that this is one of the few times I’ve come across a book that tries to break down the demonized outlook on said disease, instead of trying to capitalize off of the stereotype surrounding it. Hannah is very descriptive of her experience, which really helps the readers take in her story. However, this can be a bit of a triggering read if you’ve struggled heavily with mental illness, or have ever been under a psychiatric hold yourself.

Overall, this is definitely a worthwhile read if you’re looking for some mental health representation with a little bit of thrill to it. Hannah’s thoughts can be a bit overwhelming at times, but the story is written really well. Her journey is an interesting one to ride along with, but I think that if you do, you’ll find yourself entangled in the mess and jumble of Hannah’s reality. And you might even love it.
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I like the author's intent with this story. I can't say too much because that would give away the story.  But I loved reading about Hannah and being inside her head. I found her to be super smart, intuitive and funny in her own unique way.  I would have liked to read more about what happens to her after she leaves the institution. There were also some big parts of her life that felt too vague. Overall, I gave this story a three star rating.
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This book was honestly so much better than the majority of the mental health related books I've ever picked it up. We're introduced to our main character Hannah who finds herself in a mental institution against her will with no understanding of how she ended up there and why she was designated "a danger to herself and others". That's the most you need to know going into this book because the rest is just twist after twist. 

The story is such a great look on Hannah's road through recovery with an exploration into her diagnosis, her symptoms, and the trial and error that comes with trying to manage the symptoms. But even aside from the whole mental health aspect that I felt was so well handled, Hannah was just such an interesting character in general to read about. She's been brought up by rich parents who introduced her to a life of luxury and pushed her to be academically great, without really taking care of her which led to her mindset on life and her diagnosis. You really get to see her perspective and feel along with her, which made this book so emotionally captivating.

The plot itself, even though it is more so focused on her journey in the institution, is still so gripping and honestly, just a wild ride. Hannah ends up in the institution after playing a game with her friend, Agnes, that led to Agnes falling out of a window, but other than that Hannah has very little understanding of how she got here. So we get to follow her along as she slowly discovers the truth, becoming a mental health book with a dark mystery twist, and I was here for every second of it. 

Definitely, whole-heartedly recommend it.
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I gave this book a 2 star review on Goodreads. I have an entire blog laying out my reading journey at the link below, the link can also be found on my Goodreads and Twitter web page.
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I received this book as an ARC courtesy of NetGalley. I have read many books that center around mental health, but never a book quite like this one. The main character is not at all likable, but oddly enough, that is part of why I liked this book. Hannah read like a real person with real flaws. While A DANGER TO HERSELF AND OTHERS is not the best book I have read that focused on mental health, I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a mental health novel outside the norm.
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This book was a new experience. I have read many books that portray mental illness but this was my first one that deals with psychosis. When I first started this book I didn't know what to expect, the main character found herself in an institution, but as pages flew by I found myself so deep in the book that I knew that this book was going to be epic. It's a very different contemporary story, dark and sympathetic perfect for us readers trying to explore more mental illness books.
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Instantly sucked right into the story! Smart, witty, intense story kept me anxiously turning pages to tag along on Hannah's journey to recovery.
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A DANGER TO HERSELF AND OTHERS was a compelling, twisted, and fast-paced book. Right from the get-go I knew something wasn't right about the situation. The fact that Hannah knew her doctor diagnosed her as a danger to herself and others was the key to unlocking a lot of questions in Hannah's (and my!) mind. This was a thoroughly engaging, and such a timely book.
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Tl;dr: A Danger to Herself and Others is a first rate and gorgeously written contemporary young adult novel

The description of A Danger to Herself and Others makes it seem like your typical girl in institution (aka unreliable narrator) deals with her issues and her roommate.

Go into it like that. 

Because it is so so much better than that!

Hannah is a brilliant, egocentric, soon to be high school senior staying in California for an intensive summer study program who finds herself in a mental hospital after her roommate, Agnes, falls out of their doom window and is severely injured.

Hannah is annoyed by the whole situation--she and Agnes were friends, best friends even, and locking her up for no reason other than to satisfy Agnes's parents is totally unfair. But her parents' attorney, who has no experience in anything except maybe wills, seems to think it's okay and her parents are off to Europe so she decides to get through it and get home to school.

The doctor "treating" her, Dr. Lightfoot, is an idiot who doesn't even use proper grammar and is forever dragging an orderly in during her visits because Hannah has been deemed a danger to herself and others because of what happened with Agnes and it's so stupid because she liked Agnes a lot. Except that she also really likes Josh, who she met first but who ended up with Agnes even as he and Hannah kept hooking up. Still, it's not like she didn't know that Josh really liked her too. (Yes, Hannah is an obviously unreliable narrator. Stick it out.) 

Dr. Lightfoot won't talk about when she can leave, and Hannah knows the first day of school is coming and she can't afford to miss it. She likes school, she has plans for college, and her parents are so proud of how smart and mature she is--plus, she's used to being independent and not being stuck in a grimy room wearing paper clothes.

So, when she's finally assigned a roommate, Lucy, Hannah decides she'll make friends with her, showing Dr. Lightfoot she's fine and not a danger to herself or anyone and then she can go home and back to school.

And A Danger to Herself and Others is exactly this story but also more. And because of spoilers I won't say anything else except two things:

1. I had to take a short break from reading this about halfway through because I felt as restless as Hannah did because the writing is that good and then because I felt like I'd been dropped on my head (and in the best way, the "Oh--wait?! $#×=/!" kind of way).

2. The last chapter is so amazing. It's beautiful and horrible and perfect. I'm still thinking about it. I will be thinking about it for quite a while.

I did receive an ARC of this, but preordered it at the halfway mark because yes, it is that damn good and kudos to Ms. Sheinmel for writing this gorgeous and unflinching book. It releases in February 2019, and is already on my best of the year list. Very highly recommended.
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"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?" Alyssa Sheinmel, A Danger to Herself and Others.

At first, I wasn't really into this book. Mostly because the narrator Hannah, was kind of self-centered, spoiled, and untrustworthy. Hannah was sent to a mental hospital, because of what she deems a misunderstanding. Her roommate, Agnes, fell from a two-story window and is now in a coma. And for some reason, people seem to think that it wasn't an accident and that Hannah had something to do with it. Hannah is completely convinced that there is some kind of mistake and what happened was just an accident. But until the doctors and a judge decide whether or not she is a danger to herself and others, she's stuck in the institution.

Hannah is incredibly smart and also vaguely creepy (at first). She overanalyzes everything and everyone's motives. She also has very peculiar social interactions. Her narrative was slightly irksome at times but also strangely addicting. Even though she wasn't a very likable character I found my heart breaking for her.

A Danger to Herself and Others is an accurate and insightful portrayal of mental illness and explores the lengths someone will go to, to convince themselves they aren't sick. Being inside Hannah's mind is truly frightening in the sense that you can feel the fear and uncertainty of not knowing what is real.

Overall, I really did enjoy this one, even though it didn't really start to pick up until about halfway through. And about that ending... I wish there would have been more. I feel like this story wasn't quite finished. Even though this is a standalone I got the feeling that maybe there should be a sequel, but sadly I don't think that's going to happen.
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I was so interested in this book because I read Alyssa's other book Second Star a few years ago. This book has some of the same vibes I got while reading that book and was really fasted pace. As someone who has taken a couple psychology classes I really enjoyed the way mental health was brought up in this story. I also really liked the character development and how you go on this journey closely with Hannah the main character.
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We find Hannah, our main character, a girl who finds herself in a mental institution against her will, labelled "a danger to herself and others" as a result of a game played with a friend which has ended with that friend in a comma. The book was great I like that its good for teens and adults alike. It was a page turner.
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