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The Movie Version Hardcover – October 11, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Amelia can't wait for her junior year of high school to start. Her brother Toby, a popular senior, will make the year awesome. There will be parties, friends, and movie marathons. Amelia can't wait to tell Toby she may have a boyfriend. Nothing happens the way she imagined. Her sibling hides in his room and spends his days smoking pot, writing in a notebook, reading "Lord of the Rings," and listening to the Beatles. Amelia covers for him when he skips classes and when he hallucinates after drinking. While this is happening at home, the protagonist is trying to deal with school and her first boyfriend and struggling in a world without Toby as the star. Toby's breaking point occurs in the cafeteria, and Amelia tries to come to terms with his diagnosis. When he is sent to a treatment center, Amelia has to learn what kind of person she can be without her brother. Told in the first person, this narrative about a complex sibling relationship will resonate with readers. There are references to teenage drinking, cigarettes and marijuana, and sex. The secondary characters are different and distinguishable, but Amelia and Toby take center stage. VERDICT Recommend to fans of realistic fiction that focuses on mental health issues.—Natalie Struecker, Atlantic Public Library, IA
"With a memorable, full-of-feeling narrator at its helm, this moving exploration of the effects of mental illness and a family’s new normal marks Wunsch as a writer to watch."
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She and Toby have always been there for each other so, when he starts cutting school, smoking pot, staying in his room, and acting strangely, Amelia covers for him. She starts to put her own life on hold for him, getting mad at her boyfriend and best friend for suggesting something might be wrong with him. When Toby is diagnosed with schizophrenia, Amelia has to learn how to deal with his diagnosis and to live her life without her brother by her side.
It took some time before I could really get into this book. I started it, put it down for a few months, and then decided to try again one more time. The constant movie quotes, titles of movies I’d never heard of, and constant references to movies at inopportune times were very off putting. It wasn’t until Toby was diagnosed and Amelia decided to stop living her life like a movie that the book became bearable. Only then was I finally able to read without the constant distraction of movie titles and quotes. I also didn’t think the author needed to be so explicit when describing Amelia and her boyfriend’s sexual antics. I thought it was an unnecessary distraction, and the book could have stood alone without their relationship.
I wasn’t a fan of this book, and the only reason I gave it two stars instead of one was because I thought it important for readers to learn about how mental illness affects teenagers.
Amelia has her first sexual experiences with the charming and kind Epstein, who lives in New York City, safely away from her town, so this experience is as much about romantic fantasy as real romance. In the absence of brother Toby, Amelia begins to become her own person, learns to drive, and starts to take part in an extra-curricular activitiy, an after-school film club. She's going to make it; Toby will probably make it, and so will their seven-year-old twin brothers. There's a lot of growing up yet to do, but a lot has been thrust upon her, and upon them all. Anyway, well worth reading.
This story takes an important look at what's going on with the rest of the family, when the focus is/needs to be on one member in particular. The author really nailed the angsty aura of early high school kids, when we are egocentric (because we are figuring out who the hell we are) but also finding out how to love and support others.