The Symptoms of My Insanity is about Izzy a high school junior who is dealing with art, a budding romance, sexism, health anxiety, and her mother’s health problems. Well, dealing with it might not be the best phrase. She is pretty wound up.
A lot was going on in this book. I found it enjoyable enough but I that it need a bit of focusing. It wasn’t necessarily unrealistic. People have issues with sexism, fears, health problems, complications with romance and cyber bullying. Sometimes all at once. It was just that in this case, the cook wasn’t substantial enough for each of these issues to be fleshed out.
I don’t know how realistic the health anxiety was. It was pretty all consuming at one point and out of Izzy's control which seems realistic to me. However, it ultimately felt to me as if it was dealt with by her mother telling her not to worry about it anymore which strikes me as not the way real health anxiety would work. Approach with caution if you are reading it for the health anxiety in particular. It just didn’t read right to me.
I liked that she was an artist. I am always interested in art. Maybe this is because I have no talent for it, whatsoever. I also liked that they showed how much a struggling art could be. Sometimes when you read about art, the author has written it as if the ability was an effortless superpower.
The book is also very topical. There is an extended examination of gender double standards as well as of the way that women have to deal with the male gaze. Izzy also deals with body issues. She is more endowed than the other girls and women in her life. Her figure and especially her breasts get her a lot more attention than she would like. While some of it is positive, much of it (significantly from the boys at her school) is objectifying or (from her mother contradictory, and unintentionally confidence-undermining.
The best part of the book was the abundance of healthy and supportive female friendships and relationships. It is refreshing to read about women and girls standing with one another rather than tearing one another down. We are not constantly in competition with one another in real life, and it is frustrating when that is the norm that is represented. Good on this book for showing something different.
But here is the thing. When I went on Goodreads to log this book I saw that I had already read it. There was even a specific date which means that I put it in myself. The thing is I have no memory of this. I don’t think that that has ever happened to me before. I am decent at remembering plots, characters, titles, and authors. It is the sort of useless trivia that my brain likes to keep around along with lyrics to Disney music. There wasn’t even a twinge of recognition. That doesn’t speak well for how much this book is going to stay with me.
A laugh-out-loud, bittersweet debut full of wit, wisdom, heart, and a hilarious, unforgettable heroine.
When you’re a hypochondriac, there are a million different things that could be wrong with you, but for Izzy, focusing on what could be wrong might be keeping her from dealing with what’s really wrong.
I almost raised my hand, but what would I say? “Mr. Bayer, may I please be excused? I’m not totally positive, but I think I might have cancer.” No way. Then everyone at school would know, and they would treat me differently, and I would be known as “Izzy, that poor girl who diagnosed herself with breast cancer during biology.”
But Izzy’s sense of humor can only get her so far when suddenly her best friend appears to have undergone a personality transplant, her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, and her beautiful maybe-boyfriend is going all hot and cold. Izzy thinks she’s preparing for the worst-case scenario, but when the worst-case scenario actually hits, it’s a different story altogether—and there’s no tidy list of symptoms to help her through the insanity.