Review Blog

Mar 18 2013

Freaks like us by Susan Vaught

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Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013. ISBN 9781408836163.
Sixteen year old Jason considers himself a freak. He suffers from schizophrenia (SCZI) and attends a class at school specifically for the Severely Emotionally Disturbed or the SED class. His two best friends are also 'freaks' or alphabet kids, as they call themselves. Sunshine is a selective mute (SM) and Derrick suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Being different means that they are often subject to bullying and their opinions are frequently disregarded. They have learnt to stick together, protect their privacy and look out for each other.
Jason is sweet on Sunshine so when she disappears on the way home from school he is devastated. He knows that Sunshine has been very troubled recently but she swore him to secrecy. There are always voices in his head but they become worse when he is under stress. As the search for Sunshine gets underway, he finds it increasingly difficult to distinguish between reality and the things that the voices in his head are telling him. His medication would help but he doesn't want to take his night time dose because it will knock him out for hours and he is desperate to help the searchers.
Some of the investigators think that Jason is implicated in Sunshine's disappearance. Freaks are always the first to be blamed. He is in a race against time, battling the demons within himself and those that threaten him externally.
This book provides an interesting insight into the challenges and prejudices that face those suffering from mental illness. It also highlights the vulnerability of certain sectors of our community and will be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys thought provoking issues.
Tina Cain

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