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The Symptoms of My Insanity

Review

The Symptoms of My Insanity

Comedian and debut novelist Mindy Raf gives readers a funny, but heartfelt, glimpse at the life of one girl who's just trying to hold things together in THE SYMPTOMS OF MY INSANITY.

Izzy is just barely holding it together. She's barely passing biology. She's been strong-armed by her best friend into helping direct the school production of the musical Oklahoma!. Her mom and her mom's friend have again asked Izzy to help organize the school dance they're co-chairing, which will raise funds for Darfur. Her former best friend, Meredith, is suddenly acting all chummy again after the two have barely talked for months --- which leaves things pretty tense with current best friend Jenna, who doesn't trust Meredith at all. What's more, super-cute Blake Hangry might just have asked her out on an almost-date --- which might seem like good news but leaves Izzy even more stressed out about what to expect...and what to wear.\

"Raf deals with serious issues but does so through Izzy's own irrepressible voice --- the best indication of all that Izzy will not only survive her "symptoms" but thrive despite them."

Izzy might be able to handle all of this drama if not for the fact that she's also worried constantly about her mom's health, not to mention her own. Izzy enters every upset stomach, dizzy spell and shortness of breath into the website, symptomaniac.com, convinced that she's on the verge of a deadly outbreak of...something.

Of course, it's not surprising that Izzy has an abundance of symptoms like this. On top of everything else she's working on, she's facing the one deadline that really matters to her: finishing her art portfolio in the hopes of getting a prestigious scholarship to spend the summer studying art in Italy. But how is she possibly supposed to concentrate on this one goal when there are so many other demands on her life?

Izzy narrates her story in a voice that is simultaneously funny, heartfelt and extremely sympathetic. Considering that THE SYMPTOMS OF MY INSANITY is the debut novel by comedian Mindy Raf, the novel's humor shouldn't be all that surprising. But Raf also expertly plots her novel for maximum emotional impact. Readers learn gradually --- in large part because Izzy is too frightened to admit it to herself, let alone to her friends --- about the extent of her mother's illness.

And although readers will likely figure out the romance plot with Blake Hangry significantly before Izzy and her friends do, that doesn't lessen the impact of what happens to Izzy (and other girls) and how she in particular rises above it. Raf deals with serious issues but does so through Izzy's own irrepressible voice --- the best indication of all that Izzy will not only survive her "symptoms" but thrive despite them.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on April 19, 2013

The Symptoms of My Insanity
by Mindy Raf

  • Publication Date: April 18, 2013
  • Genres: Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dial
  • ISBN-10: 0803732414
  • ISBN-13: 9780803732414