Title: Highly Illogical Behaviour
Author: john Corey Whaley
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: May 2016
Source: Review Copy
Synopsis from Goodreads
Sixteen year old Solomon has agoraphobia. He hasn’t left his house in three years, which is fine by him. At home, he is the master of his own kingdom–even if his kingdom doesn’t extend outside of the house.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to go to a top tier psychiatry program. She’ll do anything to get in.
When Lisa finds out about Solomon’s solitary existence, she comes up with a plan sure to net her a scholarship: befriend Solomon. Treat his condition. And write a paper on her findings. To earn Solomon’s trust, Lisa begins letting him into her life, introducing him to her boyfriend Clark, and telling him her secrets. Soon, Solomon begins to open up and expand his universe. But all three teens have grown uncomfortably close, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse as well.
REVIEW BY BETH
Having not read anything by John Corey Whaley before I went into Highly Illogical Behaviour blind but expectant.
Tackling some heavy hitting mental health issues with pushy Lisa and agoraphobic Solomon pushed together, the novel starts on a truly immoral and unethical foot and to begin with, Lisa is definitely the enemy. Obsessed with getting into a college psychology program, she makes Solomon and his mental issues her ‘project’ and begins to push herself on him, befriending him whilst also using him.
It is hard not to think this is a terrible idea and in a way the last thing I wanted to see what Solomon going along with and falling for Lisa’s friendliness but it does develop in a way which they do become friends, naturally and organically to the extent where it’s almost easy to forget that Lisa is using him. It’s one of those classic novel/movie ideas where someone does something for a bet (or to advance their own academic career) but then realises the wrong in what they are doing. Lisa’s boyfriend Clark is also involved and he too becomes good friends with Solomon which makes the novel all the tenser, as there’s always that underlying feeling that it’s all going to fall apart and Solomon is going to be pushed even further back in his recovery.
As well as mental health, Highly Illogical Behaviour also examines LGBT+ issues and the depth of Solomon’s anxiety are truly felt through the intelligent and empathetic style of Whaley’s writing. The nerd love is strong in Highly Illogical Behaviour and there is genuine warmth and wit in the dialogues between the characters. It switches from each character but is told in the third person. There is real heartbreak in this novel but lots of life affirming, special moments too.
I am definitely interested in reading more from John Corey Whaley and will look out for his other works.