Friday, April 6, 2012

Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy

Sonya Sones has written many free verse novels, but none are more personal than her first, the aptly titled Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy. Sones has crafted her journal entries from when she thirteen into poems that may help readers coping with loved ones with mental illnesses.

When Cookie's older sister has a breakdown and is hospitalized, everything in her life shifts. Her parents begin arguing, her friends desert her, and her world begins to revolve around the unnamed sister. Since they are drawn from Sones' real life, all of the emotions are authentic. Cookie veers between anger, shame, fear that she is going insane, and hope that maybe she will be the one to bring Sister out of the darkness.

My favorite part of the book actually had nothing to do with Sister. Cookie gets her first boyfriend, which is also her first dose of normalcy since Sister's hospitalization. I love the hopefulness that she brings to the relationship and am so happy that the boy was the sweet and understanding presence that Cookie needed.

While the poems did not catch me the way other verse novels have, I enjoyed viewing this as a companion to Susanna Kaysen's excellent Girl Interrupted. It's always interesting to have the perspective of the sibling left behind. In the case of Stop Pretending, it is probably more beneficial to the reader.


  1. Thanks for the review. I want to read this one! Have you read "I Don't Want to be Crazy" by Samantha Schutz? It's a YA memoir by a girl who has panic attacks, also told in verse.

  2. No, I've never heard of that one, but will add it to my list! With all the great recommendations I'm getting, I will definitely be able to make it through December, publishing one verse review a week.


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