Published: 4 April 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult/Contemporary/Romance/Health (Mental Health)
This heartbreaking, humorous novel is about three teens whose lives intersect in ways they never expected.
Reggie Mason is all too familiar with “the Three Stages of Depression.” She believes she’s unlocked the secret to keeping herself safe: Nobody can hurt you if you never let them in.
Reggie encounters an unexpected challenge to her misanthropy: a Twizzler-chomping, indie film-making narcissist named Snake. Snake’s presence, while reassuring, is not exactly stable—especially since his ex-girlfriend is seven months pregnant. As Reggie falls for Snake, she must decide whether it’s time to rewrite the rules that have defined her.
Rating: 3 Stars
I only have my own experience with mental illness to go on and so cannot speak to how other people will interpret this novel’s handling of that subject matter, but for my part Definitions of Indefinable Things was an interesting read that had some pitfalls, but overall managed to succeed in being a book that I would a) recommend and b) likely pick up again in the future.
I started out liking Reggie and Snake, our two main characters. Sure they weren’t the nicest of people for one reason or another, but I felt like I understood their characters. However, despite this initial interest, I felt myself getting annoyed by what seemed to be a lack of progress during some parts of the novel. Lags in pacing, if you will, and that annoyed me because it seemed like they were “doing well”, in a manner of speaking. They’ve both got a lot of challenges, not least of which is their mental illness and Snake’s impending fatherhood, which might explain why it took a lot of time to get anywhere.
The writing overall, with the brief exceptions I mentioned above that cropped up, was actually quite good. This is my first Whitney Taylor novel, her debut I believe, and I would’t be adverse to picking up another of her books in the future. She has a knack for being funny at the right moments 9 times out of 10 while also being able to write the hard stuff, i.e. Reggie’s depression. As the book only gives us one perspective, that was the important facet for me to see done well.
Having seen what Whitney Taylor can do with this subject, I’m curious to see what kind of book she’ll write next. Will we see more on a similar subject and writing the continues to get better, or perhaps a risk that showcases another part of her talent? Time will tell, but in the meantime, I would offer up Definitions of Indefinable Things as evidence of a good book by a talented author.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.