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Book Review: This is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky

When Sophie’s mother tries to kill herself and Sophie finds her one day after school, her entire well-regulated world is thrown into chaos.  Her mother’s bi-polar disorder has always been something that Sophie has dealt with, but now she finds that the doctors haven taken control of it.  She temporarily moves in with her estranged aunt and uncle and her cousin, and while there, she copes with the feelings of guilt and also relief that she is not the only person her mother is depending on.

Polsky’s well-crafted novel is a quiet, character-driven exploration of bi-polar disorder and how it can impact families.  An unflinchingly honest and convincing novel, this isn’t an easy read, but it is a satisfying one.  Polsky’s excellent writing makes this authentic, memorable, and very sincere.

Although her mother’s actions are the novel’s catalyst, this story is all Sophie’s as she navigates her world now that everything has been thrown into disarray.  Sophie is perceptive and smart, and she’s unafraid to be honest with herself about her feelings.  The fact that she has complicated feelings about her mother’s illness–and about her hospitalization–feels authentic and believable.  As she works to sort through her feelings and also reconcile herself to the fact that getting to experience the more normal aspects of being a teenager doesn’t make her disloyal to her mother, readers will watch her grow and evolve as a character.

The secondary characters are also treated with care, and the exploration of Sophie’s relationship with each of them is well-paced.  As she reconnects with her estranged family, readers will begin to understand why her aunt chose to leave Sophie’s mother’s life–and they’ll sympathize with how difficult a decision it was.  This is a character-driven novel through and through, and readers who like that in a story shouldn’t be disappointed.

Recommended.

This is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky. Albert Whitman Teen: 2013. Copy accepted via publisher for the 2013 Cybils.

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