When local YA author Shana Norris announced that she was releasing a standalone that focuses on the day-to-day life of an epileptic, I was super excited to read the book, as I knew the author was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2015 and would bring a authentic voice to the story. It was an absolute honor to be selected as an early reviewer for this novel!
Being that the author has first-hand experience with epilepsy, the representation of the condition in the novel is first-rate. I’m acquainted with another person with epilepsy, and the portrayal of the seizures in the novel is spot-on. Being that epilepsy is more common than most people realize, it’s fantastic that this main character can be someone teens with this condition can relate to.
Down Syndrome Representation
Like with the representation of epilepsy, the novel also includes a character with Down Syndrome. I can’t attest that the portrayal of Down Syndrome was accurate, as I don’t personally know anyone who has it, but I appreciate that the character was portrayed as confident, strong-willed, and capable of doing anything she set her mind to.
Sean, Tamika, and Sasha
The stand-out characters in this novel for me were Sean (Harper’s love interest), Tamika (a friend), and Sasha (Sean’s younger sister). All three of these characters had exuberant personalities that jumped from the pages.
Portrayal of Churches
Though the novel does not bash Christianity or churches, it portrays most members at Harper’s church as nosy or overly curious about epilepsy. I believe this is a 100% accurate portrayal of some church members, but not all of them. I would also have loved to see Harper put her faith in God to help deal with her frustration with epilepsy, but instead she skips church services to not have to deal with the nosy people.
By the end, her negative feelings toward the nosy people are put to rest, but we don’t see Harper grow in her faith either. I would like to note that the novel is not categorized as Christian YA, though, so church is portrayed more like a setting.
Though I liked the way Harper’s epilepsy was portrayed, I struggled connecting to her. I’ve read four other works by this author and have connected more to those main characters, so I think it was just Harper’s angst against her diagnosis that hindered my connection to her.
I received an ebook copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. A positive review was not required to receive the book.
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
Have you read any of Shana Norris’s previous books? If you love contemporary YA, I highly recommend checking out her Stolen Kiss series!
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.