This is the second review you’ll read from me where I don’t know how to write it, but unlike my previous one (where I loved the book) the reasons for me not knowing how to write this are entirely different. I got approved for this eARC via NetGalley and finally read it. Words On Bathroom Walls was a book I didn’t enjoy from pretty much the get-go. I even considered DNFing it multiple times but finished reading it in the end.
The usage of the word ‘crazy’
I was really uncomfortable with the way the main character Adam (who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is taking part in a trial for a new drug) constantly referred to himself and others suffering from schizophrenia as ‘crazy’ or ‘crazies’. I can’t tell you if this is a me thing or something that would be considered offensive by someone who actually lives with a mental health illness like schizophrenia. All I can say is that I didn’t like reading a character referring to himself and others as ‘crazy’ for a mental health illness. It felt offending. But I want someone to talk in more detail about this who has experience with this!
Once I finished the book I actually went back and put a bookmark on every scene I found uncomfortable or possibly offensive because of the usage of the word ‘crazy’ and I actually ended up with 34 different instances and I feel like that is too much. And the character never really seems to learn how his words might hurt someone else. He is never actively shown talking to people the entire book. The entire story is narrated through diary entries Adam makes and sends to his therapist after each session as Adam doesn’t want to actually speak in his sessions.
The main reason why I requested this book was to get a perspective into what life might be like for people with schizophrenia but all I got was a 16-year-old boy who talks negatively about mental health problems and doesn’t undergo any kind of character development over the course of the entire story which takes place over almost an entire year.
The girlfriend is referred to as the ‘cure’
When we first meet Adam we also meet Ian who is pretty much the stereotypical high school bully and Maya who later one becomes Adam’s girlfriend. One of the things that really bothered me was how Adam refers to Maya as his ‘cure’. The only thing that keeps him sane, etc. It’s is so often criticised in books when love or a relationship is seen as the ‘cure’ for a mental illness and then we have this kid who refers to his girlfriend as exactly that and since all we’re getting is his perspective no one is going to talk about how that might not be the best thing.
Had we actually gotten to see Adam in therapy and conversation with his therapist, I think this book could’ve been so much better and the messages it sent would’ve been more positive.
Adam’s views on someone else’s relationship with sex
As we follow Adam throughout almost a year of his life, we also get a look into what Valentine’s Day is like and how it’s dealt with at the Catholic school Adam is attending. Adam talks about how there are religious parents who have convinced their kids that sex is bad, etc and then he ends his musings by saying that those people are weirdos and everyone knows it. And I just wanted to yell at him. You do not get to tell other people what they can and can’t think about sex or how they approach sex. It’s up to an individual to decide on how they want to act. Or not to act, for that matter.
Honestly, I feel like this concept of a story could have been a really great book but it was just executed so poorly in my opinion. This ended up being a 1-star book for me and even then just barely.