Jason is essentially raising himself. His mother died, and his father, well, let's face it. His father is crazy. And since Jason has no friends, he created people in his mind to keep him company. But when Jason's behavior at school results in mandatory in school counseling, Jason starts to form real relationships with the other students in his therapy group, he begins to need the people in his mind less and less. It is these real connections and real people that afford him the courage to deal with his real problems.
When I first started reading this book, and realized the kind of cast of characters I was going to be dealing with here (real vs. imaginary) my head started to swim. Luckily, Han Nolan does a brilliant job of keeping everything sorted out. The dialog with the imaginary voices in Jason's head reads somewhat like a stage play, but really, that is not a bad thing. Because of these voices all being a part of Jason's character, he is extremely complex, but very well developed. I love watching him move more toward connecting with real people.
The storyline centers around mental illness and loss, so you would think the book would be mournful, yet it really is not, there is some real joy to be found in the book. The subtext of forgiveness is pretty strong as well, which I think lends to that joyful feeling. I find this to be a really fresh story for young adult readers, touching on themes that most young adult fiction won't, and in that, there is real merit. It is beautiful, and brave, and capable of being a voice for some who have no other.
I received a review copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley.