Cracked by K M Walton
Victor hates his life. He has no friends, gets beaten up at school, and his parents are always criticizing him. Tired of feeling miserable, Victor takes a bottle of his mother's sleeping pills—only to wake up in the hospital.
Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. That makes him feel better, at least a little. But it doesn't stop Bull's grandfather from getting drunk and hitting him. So Bull tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.
When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, there's no way to escape each other or their problems. Which means things are going to get worse—much worse—before they get better….
This book was an enormous disappointment. I was promised a book about the reality of bullying and abuse and depression, and Walton handed me a book so divorced from that reality that it was almost painful to read.
The book starts off as legitimately affecting and emotional and quickly peters out into a charicature of mental illness. This is a book for people who don't know and don't care about the reality of mental illness and abuse - the people who want to believe that there's always a happy ending and it's not that hard to find it.
Bullshit. Walton made the psych ward sound like a boring summer camp - few rules, plenty of positivity, and maybe you'll even fall in love! In a real psych ward, you can't start making out in the hallway. Kids don't stay for a few days and go home all better. And they don't always get happy endings. Recovering from depression and the psychological effects of abuse is a long, difficult process, and neither Victor nor Bull experience that. A few group therapy sessions, a pretty (and severely underdeveloped) love interest for both of them, and - bam! - they're good as new. Not to mention everything falling into place so that they don't have to go back to the same situations and are less likely to relapse. That's just not how the real world works. Walton only makes one tiny mention of an unhappy ending, but blink and you'll miss it.
I can forgive Walton for her lazy descriptions (ex: "That made me feel bad.") I can forgive her for the badly writted side characters and sloppy romance. But I can't forgive her for writing a book about depression and abuse that barely grazes the surface of that reality.
Once Upon a Time...
As a longtime lover of stories and a believer in the power and magic of books, I've spent my life seeking out the best reads. This blog is dedicated to reviewing the books I read - good, bad, or magnificent - to help other readers find their next favorite books.