Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: John Corey Whaley
Publisher: Dial Books
Solomon hasn’t been outside in three years, since a panic attack at school ended with him splashing around in the school’s fountain. Solomon is content to live out the rest of his life indoors to minimize panic attacks, no matter how much his parents encourage him to branch out. But then he meets Lisa, a girl who has set her sights on a scholarship to study psychology and needs an essay topic. Lisa is certain that if she could just meet Solomon and establish a bond of trust, she can use what she knows about psychology to get him to venture outside. Accomplishing such a feat would certainly win her the scholarship. So, Lisa uses her resources and finally gets the chance to meet Solomon. What she doesn’t anticipate is that her relationship with Solomon will turn into so much more than a client-patient relationship. The two of them, along with Lisa’s boyfriend Clark, will develop a bond of friendship that goes far beyond Lisa’s essay.
Highly Illogical Behavior is conversational and straightforward enough to be compelling, even to readers without much interest in reading. The author writes the character of Solomon in such a way that his panic disorder is only one, small part of a teenage boy with so many other traits. Highly Illogical Behavior humanizes those with anxiety and other conditions, but it does so subtly and without making an obvious theme out of the idea. Rather, the story seems to be focused on the power of non-judgmental friendship. Any other themes, like gay acceptance or seeing past mental illness, are only details that support the main idea. Also, this book is impressive in the way it avoids solving problems that would not be so easily solvable in real life. For example, though Solomon certainly makes progress with the support of his friends, his anxiety is not cured just by social interaction. The author maintains the integrity of Solomon’s struggles throughout the story, even when ending the book with a sudden, miraculous recovery would have been easy and satisfying.
*Contains severe language and moderate sexual content.