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Customer Review

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 October 2020
I really liked that Tori honestly felt like a teenager who was really struggling with her mental health problems, but was trying to almost convince herself she was fine. She pushed away her friends, couldn't focus on anything but scrolling through her blog, and started messing up at school, too. I was never as mean as Tori was while my depression was undiagnosed and untreated (at least, I hope I wasn't) but honestly, depression is difficult and not everyone experiences it the same way, and having Tori reflect some aspects of depression I never see in media was what really made this book for me. Tori isn't always likeable, and she doesn't like herself. She struggles with self loathing, which then turns to hating the people around her (or just feeling totally numb) and making awful jokes with gallows humour to get herself through. It's not a good way to cope, but honestly a lot of coping mechanisms you develop for yourself (especially as a teen) aren't good.

I loved Tori's relationship with Charlie. They love each other so much but they're both really struggling. You can't always help someone else when you don't know how to deal with yourself, and that's a difficult thing to learn. Tori sees some signs Charlie isn't ok (and he sees them in her) but doesn't want to believe he isn't ok. It's heart breaking but also realistic.
I think its also important that this book showed that recovery isn't linear, you can still have bad periods while in therapy (as Charlie is) and it doesn't mean that you've failed. You're still worthy and loveable. I saw a parts of my teen self in both Tori and Charlie, and also in their school lives.

For me this book has such a focus on the characters, and so, I can definitely see why people wouldn't like it, because Tori would be hard to connect to if you didn't understand why she is the way she is. But for me, this book really made me cry and my teenage self would really have appreciated this book, and the lessons in it. Sometimes you just need to reach out to someone. They won't fix you, but they can try and help you fix yourself. Also sometimes it's easier to make yourself do something for another person. Again, not the best/healthiest coping mechanism, but I have done it a LOT in my life, and I finally realised I should be doing it for me, it just took a while.

Solitaire were really a secondary plot point for me, as I figured out who it was and why they were doing it early on but that didn't make it less interesting. It was intriguing watching Tori's experience of the pranks, seeing her learn how to feel something, and care about what was happening around her
There was a lot of development in her character done through parallels to Solitaire's actions so I enjoyed reading about them.

I had a very personal reading of this book, and so a lot of moments hit me quite hard. There's suicidal thoughts/feelings/actions, self harm, an eating disorder and bullying. They were hard to read about, and I cried multiple times reading this book. It wasn't an easy read and I can understand why Solitaire might not work for other people, but this felt personal and important to me. I'm not saying it 5 Stars because I didn't agree with everything in the book, and Tori was judgemental and sometimes awful - I know it's her character but still! But I really loved this book, and I have read it during a difficult patch, and connected to it on so many levels. I'm looking forward to reading more of Oseman's work, as this and Heartstopper have been a definitely hit for me!
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