“Feelings don’t try to kill you, even the painful ones. Anxiety is a feeling grown too large. A feeling grown aggressive and dangerous. You’re responsible for its consequences, you’re responsible for treating it. But Michael, you’re not responsible for causing it. You’re not morally at fault for it. No more than you would be for a tumour.”
I’m terrible, really really terrible, at reading shortlists for book prizes. If I’ve read something off a shortlist, any shortlist, I’m surprised. So when the YA Book Prize Shortlist came out last week, I was shocked to see that I’d already read one of them: The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge, and intended to read at least three others. Last Saturday morning, I finished my previous book on my way to work, so I wandered off in search of something else to read in the afternoon while waiting for my friends. I spent a glorious hour or so sitting on the steps of St Martin-in-the-fields on Trafalgar Square, reading this in the sunshine and listening to someone playing the Star Wars theme on the bagpipes. London: never a dull moment.
I haven’t read much Patrick Ness. This is silly, because I really like Patrick Ness. I inhaled More Than This over Christmas a couple of years ago, and The Crane Wife spooked me and intrigued me and confused me. I’ve got a beautiful copy of The Monster Calls but haven’t read it yet, for some reason which is a mystery even to me.
The Rest Of Us Just Live Here is set in a generic small town in America, in high school. Mikey has two sisters, an alcoholic dad and a politician mom, and a clutch of friends who he loves fiercely. So far, so YA. Mikey’s elder sister is recovering from an eating disorder, he suffers with anxiety and OCD. Mikey’s town has an interesting past, with vampires and soul-eating ghosts, but in an abstract way. This continues into the present, with excellent little summaries at the beginning of each chapter of what’s happening to other people while the main events of the book take place. It’s a superhero-type story, told from the sidelines, and it’s very very clever. I loved it. It took me two days to read, around quite a lot of other things, such as drinking cocktails in the bar of the Hippodrome Casino while watching the rugby, because the pubs were full, and going for a spontaneous walk in the countryside. I really, really enjoyed it. I also did a cry at the quote at the top here, and had to have a little rest before finishing it on the back step in the sunshine. Some of the kids at school are going to be shadowing the Carnegie and the YA Book Prize, and this is shortlisted for both, so I’m looking forward to hearing what they think.