In the movie version of Amelia’s life, the roles have always been clear. Her older brother, Toby: definitely the Star. As popular with the stoners as he is with the cheerleaders, Toby is someone you’d pay ten bucks to watch sweep Battle of the Bands and build a “beach party” in the bathroom. As for Amelia? She’s Toby Anderson’s Younger Sister. She’s perfectly happy to watch Toby’s hijinks from the sidelines, when she’s not engrossed in one of her elaborately themed Netflix movie marathons.
But recently Toby’s been acting in a very non-movie-version way. He’s stopped hanging out with his horde of friends and started obsessively journaling and disappearing for days at a time. Amelia doesn’t know what’s happened to her awesome older brother, or who this strange actor is that’s taken his place. And there’s someone else pulling at her attention: a smart, cute new boyfriend who wants to know the real Amelia—not Toby’s Sidekick. Amelia feels adrift without her star, but to best help Toby—and herself—it might be time to cast a new role: Amelia Anderson, leading lady.
Disclaimer: This book involves mental illness and the review may contain some spoilers. I’ll try to avoid as much as I can. I just find it difficult to review the book without mentioning some things.
This was a book that I was able to finish in record time and I really enjoyed it. There were some things that were a little new to me – the content, mainly – and because of that, it was completely unexpected and I wasn’t ready for it. It made me a little uncomfortable. But I just recently saw a tweet that said “if you never read things that don’t make you uncomfortable, what’s the point?”
For the first 25% of the book, we see Meals and her family life and we see the dynamic with her big brother Toby change dramatically. I was very interested in seeing what was going on with Toby and why he became so withdrawn. I was thinking he just drowned himself in pot and was smoking a lot more than Meals – in addition to his family and friends – expected. It didn’t even cross my mind that it could be any type of mental illness that is affecting Toby.
How the mental illness that “took control” of Toby was handled . . . I don’t know if that was normal behavior or not. How Meals handled her relationship with Toby just seemed off-putting and I felt really bad for Toby. On one hand, she kept living her life as if nothing was wrong – I don’t see anything wrong with that, but at the same time she just kind of pulled away from Toby and wasn’t really there for him. Maybe it was denial? Not wanting to accept that Toby had a mental illness.
I wasn’t really satisfied with how the book ended. The “movie version” reference was just kind of bleak to me. I think the intention was solid but the execution was just a little lackluster. It felt like a cliffhanger that wasn’t really a cliffhanger. I would’ve liked to have known what happens to Toby more once he came back from Two Moons.
This review was very hard for me to write, but I did enjoy the book and I’ve been introduced to something that is affecting not only friends and family, but more and more people every day.
If you or someone you know suffers from a mental illness – you are not alone. For more information and resources for mental illness, please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness website.