Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.
I knew after reading 15 pages that this book was going to be a 5-star read. John Corey Whaley really knows how to write in a way that connects with readers. He’s definitely a master at moving people with his words.
Written in alternating chapters of Solomon and Lisa, Highly Illogical Behavior explores the friendship that blossoms between them and what a little bit of kindness, companionship and love can do for people. Solomon suffers from agoraphobia, which is the fear of open and public places that are deemed to be dangerous because it may be difficult to escape when a panic attack occurs. After an especially embarrassing panic attack when he was 13, Solomon has stayed inside his house for 3 years, not even stepping outside into his backyard. But Lisa thinks she can fix him. She desperately wants to become a psychologist and in order to get into the second-best psychology program in the United States on a full scholarship, she needs to write an essay on her personal experiences with mental illness. Curing Solomon of his agoraphobia will give her the best chance to win the scholarship with her essay. And she’ll stop at nothing to get what she wants.
What initially drew me to the story was the beautiful writing. There’s just something about third person omniscient that gets me every time. The writing was so full of heart and emotion and it was really impossible for me not to feel touched and love the story. But it was the characters and their interactions that kept me reading and invested in the story. Solomon was a fantastic character and I loved the way that he was portrayed in the novel. He was just a normal kid and wasn’t portrayed as disabled or abnormal in any way. He’s just a kid who has anxiety. We’re all scared of things and his fear just happens to be public spaces. I also loved his family and how supportive they were of him and his condition. They acknowledge that the situation is tough but they don’t force him to change when he’s not ready and they’re there for him when he needs help and support. Their acceptance of who he is was really moving.
He felt it. It was small and it was complicated, but he felt it all the same. He wanted to follow them. He wanted to walk outside and follow them into the world.
I also really, really liked Clark. He was a great best friend to Solomon and I wasn’t expecting him to be as great a friend as he was. But I fell so quickly in love with him and he was such a nice and genuine guy who knows right from wrong. I think his presence really made the book. There were so many hilarious interactions between him and Solomon and it was just so beautiful to see the friendship come to life. Now, Lisa on the other hand, I really did not like at all. She was very pushy and manipulative and I couldn’t really stand how self-centred and egotistic she was. She’s a very confident young woman who believes that there’s nothing she cannot do, even if it means using other people to get what she wants. Her character definitely developed throughout the book and I eventually did start to like her, but for most of the novel, I couldn’t really stand her. But what I thought was really great was the fact that the friendships in this book helped not only Solomon, but also Lisa to become a better person who treats those around her with more care and love.
There’s really not much more that I can say besides “read this book”. It’s a short book that is really quick to read and you’ll definitely laugh and cry with the characters.