- Kari Patrick
In Words on Bathroom Walls, by Julia Walton, Adam, now 16, has suffered from auditory and visual hallucinations for years. Only recently has he finally been diagnosed as schizophrenic. This diagnosis makes sense to Adam, who is accustomed to mobsters bursting into classrooms and firing machine guns at will and the naked man who follows him around and keeps him company sometimes—of course, these are things only he sees hears and experiences.
As well as finally receiving a diagnosis, Adam has also found himself in a clinical trial for a new drug to help with his symptoms. As part of the trial, Adam must be closely monitored to ensure that the medication is only having positive effects on him. The book is written as Adam’s diary entries to his therapist. His therapy sessions are a required part of the clinical trial, but Adam refuses to speak to the man. Instead, he pens answers to the various questions for the therapist to read later.
Following a schizophrenia episode at his school, his mother and stepfather decide to enroll Adam in a private school, hoping to give him a fresh start and some normality as he works to get his condition under control. As the dosage is slowly increased, we see Adam start to feel more confident as he gains the ability to differentiate between which people in his life are real and which ones are only in his mind.
When the drug starts to fail, Adam finds himself stuck once again. Afraid to tell anyone of his condition, even his girlfriend, how can he explain his behavior? And, why have the cooking utensils all been taken away from him? As his normal high school woes become entangled with those brought on by his condition, will Adam be able to keep his secret and keep his life from unraveling into hallucinations again?
For more YA books about teens with a variety of mental illnesses, check out these titles: The Weight of Zero, by Karen Fortunati; Challenger Deep, by Neal Schusterman; Identical, by Ellen Hopkins; and Lighter Than My Shadow, by Katie Green