by John Corey Whaley
Published by Dial
on May 10, 2016
Source: ARC from the publisher for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him. Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there? Solomon is the answer. Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.My take: I've enjoyed all John Corey Whaley's books -- he's a wonderful writer and I like the fact that, as a writer, he always takes the unexpected path. Highly Illogical Behavior takes a premise I've seen many times before, one that is a huge staple in romance novels and movies: the character with a secret agenda. Think of Drew Barrymore pretending to be a high school student (but actually a twenty-five year old reporter) in Never Been Kissed. Or a single, childless Hugh Grant attending a Parents Without Partners support group in order to hit on vulnerable women in About a Boy. What happens next is also familiar: the cynical pretender grows fond of the people he or she is duping. TV Tropes calls it Becoming the Mask.
As the synopsis indicates, Lisa befriends Solomon on a ruse. But Highly Illogical Behavior also turns this premise around. It doesn't just focus on the Big Secret, but looks at the situation from different angles. As the title indicates, both of the book's POV characters are engaging in illogical behavior. Solomon has a bunch of anxiety issues and is unable to leave his house. Lisa thinks that she can "cure" Solomon and use her success as the basis of a college scholarship essay. (Lisa is also rather preoccupied by her boyfriend's illogical behavior and decides to draw him into her scheme, with unexpected results.)
If Lisa sounds like an unlikable character, I'll confess that I found her one at first. She reminded me a little bit of Tracy Flick from Tom Perrotta's Election, a ruthless overachiever. And it would also be easy to assume that Solomon is nothing but a victim. But as the book went on, I began to see each character's hopes and fears and motivations.
Highly Illogical Behavior is less a book about what it's like to suffer from anxiety and more about the fears that all of us have - will we succeed, will we be accepted, will we find love?
If you enjoyed Everything, Everything, you might want to give this a try! And if you're curious, stop by on Friday for a giveaway and next week for my blog tour post!