Saturday, April 1, 2017

strictly literary: definitions of indefinable things by whitney taylor

whitney taylor's debut, definitions of indefinable things, is a deep dive into what it means to struggle with depression. not only that, but it also attempts to show us that depression isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, it strikes different people in different ways, even if sometimes the symptoms are similar.

reggie mason is a depression expert seeing as how she has it, and when she meets fellow depressive pill popper, snake (real name: matthew) who uses their diagnoses as a pick-up line she's not having it. she's already tried the relationship thing once and ended up more depressed than ever so she's not looking for someone else to care about. except snake (you guys, i hate this name) is kind of hard to ignore.

and he's trying so hard. he takes reggie on an anti-date (see: a good date disguised as a terrible one) and he does all the right things and just when reggie thinks maybe he's worth taking a chance on she realizes that he's her former co-worker's baby daddy and possible current boyfriend (see: not boyfriend material). how whitney navigates her feelings for snake (ugh) and carla and their situation, as well as her relationship with her family (especially her mom) and her depression is the bulk of the novel.

and because feelings are messy and depression is messy and relationships are messy and the main characters are young adults things get messy and hard and handled poorly. and for a while, i was worried that this was going to be a depressing story about depression like all the bright places. but thankfully the messaging here is not as bleak. yes, depression is difficult and all-consuming, but there is hope. knowing your triggers. knowing yourself. talking things through. owning your feelings. all those things help. in the end, there are no easy answers (see: life is messy), but it is possible to hope that things get better.  and that's a perfectly good place to reach.

**definitions of indefinable things will publish on april 4, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/houghton mifflin harcourt children's book group (hmh books for young readers) in exchange for my honest review.

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