Title: A Note of Madness
Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Published by: Definitions
Publication date: 15 Feb. 2007
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Freebie from the local library
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I picked this book up, because I was curious how a fictional book about mental health would play out. I was aware that it was a book for a younger audience, but thought I would give it a try anyway.
The novel is a debut by Tabitha Suzuma, and it’s an explosive entrance to the authors stage! I want to state that I enjoyed this novel immensely – probably due to it helping me understand aspects of my own battles with mental health – and I recommend it to anyone who wants to try and understand how someone suffering from depression feels if they cannot relate to it themselves.
The story centres on Flynn, a successful student at the Royal College of Music. As a pianist he works hard to earn his accolades; an impressive concert, which he deems the opportunity of a lifetime. Beneath the high praise however, things are not right. One night Flynn feels he can write operas and ‘take on the world of music’ the next, he’s sleeping all day and not wanting to leave the house because he sees very little point to it. His emotions feel wrong to him and he doesn’t understand or know why.
Flynn as a character is interesting to read about, his struggles with college are entirely realistic; as are the highs and lows of his mental issues and how they develop and completely consume his life. In addition to Flynn, is Harry and Jennah, his flat-mate and prospective love interest (which seems to be part of the cause of Flynns depression) these two are wonderful side characters whose struggles with Flynns depression and wild mood swings are just as authentic as Flynns.
There is a decent amount of drama in the story too, with the ups and downs of Flynns condition being twinned with his rivalries with other students at the Royal College of Music as well as a budding romance between Flynn and Jennah (Although Flynns condition makes him a bit oblivious to Jennahs hints; he sees it as pity) which helps pad the story out a bit longer.
I think the issues that make this a good and interesting is also what hinders it. Due to the nature of Flynns mental health problems, there is no twist or turn in the book. His high moods are just that. High – it’s during these he feels he can write operas and run marathons around the park – which are followed by lows; where he skips classes and stays in bed. Due to the nature of his bi-polar disorder these swings don’t come as a surprise. Nor do the inevitable relapses and denials, but then again, do we need such twists and turns in a book which is essentially a study of manic depression?
I’ve not mentioned that Flynns brother is a Dr, so it came as a surprise that he wasn’t able to diagnose Flynns condition earlier in the book, but I guess that would have cut the length of the book too much?
All on all not a bad read and it was useful as a study for mental health – since reading the A Note of Madness – I have found out that it is the first of two novels and I am interested in reading the follow up novel, to find out how Flynn continues to cope and see how his relationship with Jennah develops (or doesn’t) but I am not going to rush out of my way to get a copy; maybe if it comes on sale on Kobo!