This isn't a book review. Let's get that stated right off the bat. Book reviews require plot summaries and a semi-organized layout of different aspects of the book being reviewed. This is more off the cuff.
I just finished reading Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti. It came out earlier this month and has been on my Amazon Wishlist since I stumbled across her blog on LiveJournal a few months ago. Since this not a book review, I should let you know that more information on Waiting for You is available here.
I usually avoid books where the main character is suffering from some sort of mild or severe mental illness, be it depression, attention deficit disorder, anxiety disorder or any other thing that qualifies a person as "messed up." When I read books with these kinds of characters, I need the voice and the experience to be authentic. Maybe it's just the books I happen to have read, but there's always something that seems just slightly off.
Usually it's the amount of focus that's put on whatever disorder the character suffers from. A lot of characters seemed defined by what makes them messed up. They exhibit symptoms constantly and always have their medical problems on their minds. As far as my experience goes, this just isn't authentic.
The lack of focus on Marisa's anxiety disorder, is what makes her so relatable for me. She mentions her initial symptoms and past treatment at the begining of the novel. During the middle of the book there are a few brief mentions of things a therapist said and there are times when you can subtly see the anxiety cause her to do things that aren't typical. Everything creeps up slowly and stays in the background. Marisa is much more focused on issues with her boyfriend, changes in her friendship with Sterling and figuring out her relationship with Nash.
And Marisa does hit a low point with her anxiety. However, even as Marisa hit her "rock bottom" she is realizing what's going wrong and taking the actions to fix it. She doesn't wallow in any sort of self despair, and the reader doesn't have to muddle through any flowy, metaphor-ridden passages about how crappy Marisa is feeling.
In short, this is a book with a messed character, not a book about a character being messed up. I recommend Waiting for You to anyone who is looking for a book with a flawed character who is not defined by her flaws. I have read Colasanti's first novel, When it Happens which I enjoyed. I also have copy of her second novel, Take Me There sitting in my room. I will definitely be getting around to that book sooner.
*Side note: I love the cover's of all three of Susane Colasanti's books, with their hidden faces
What Do You Think?: What books do you think handle this kind of subject with well-developed characters? While also being good reads, of course.