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You’ll Find Me Listed In The Ds

The main characters of Whitney Taylor’s Definitions of Indefinable Things struggle with depression, deception—and what it means to truly live.

You’ll Find Me Listed In The Ds

BOOK REPORT for Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor

Cover Story: Montell Jordan
BFF Charm: Natalie Imbruglia
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: In Her Head
Bonus Factor: Awesome Dad
Factor: Mental Illness
Anti-Bonus Factors: Love Triangle, Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting
Relationship Status: It’s Not Me

Cover Story: Montell Jordan

I really dig this cover.* It’s bright, the little people are cute, and the feel of it all works really well for the story within. (You’ll notice the cute little people aren’t exactly happy to see each other …)

*If I’m being honest, however, there are very few illustrated covers that don’t totally grab me.

The Deal:

Regina “Reggie” Mason is an outcast—and she likes it that way. She’s also clinically depressed … and she maybe likes it that way, too? Perhaps not what originally caused her to be depressed, or the symptoms of the illness, but Reggie use her depression as an excuse to have a seriously dour outlook on life, and hate everyone and everything. Until, that is, she meets Snake Eliot, an equally sullen and surly young man who also happens to be clinically depressed.

It’s not easy for Reggie to open up to people, however, and then there’s the whole issue of Snake’s not-so-ex-girlfriend being seven months pregnant ...

BFF Charm: Natalie Imbruglia

I feel for Reggie. As someone who’s struggled with depression, I know that it’s not any easy road to walk down. And I know that the “help” for such issues, be they prescription drugs or therapy, don’t always make things easier; sometimes they only make things worse. So I get that Reggie is struggling and barely keeping her head afloat.

But Reggie’s also a major asshole, to put it frankly. She hides behind her sarcasm and snark, and pushes people away if they even hint that they’d like to be more than passing acquaintances. She has a bit of a holier-than-thou attitude, too, and rarely goes out of her way to help herself. Had she put forth even a little effort in making herself better, rather than wallowing for most of the book, I think I would have given her more of the benefit of the doubt and actually liked her. As it stands, I just don’t.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

I’m all for misfit love: when two seemingly too-disparate individuals find each other and wade through each other’s messes to discover something real. And Reggie and Snake might have fit that mold, had it not been for the whole issue of Snake's pregnant not-so-ex-girlfriend—whom he didn't tell Reggie about until after Reggie figures it out on her own. (Yeah, I see your disapproving shakes of the head and raise you an “oh, hell no” of my own.) I really wanted to like Snake, and a certain part of my brain does appreciate his quirks, his bad boy appeal, and some of his attempts at wooing Reggie**, but I definitely Roger Murtaughed him long before the end of the book.

**Is Snake a Manic Pixie Dream Guy? I’m not quite sure, but I’m leaning in that direction.

Talky Talk: In Her Head

My experience with Definitions of Indefinable Things suffered thanks to my struggle with liking Reggie and, to a lesser extent, Snake. Because the book is told through Reggie’s POV, I found it hard to get fully invested in the plot. Reggie’s bad attitude colors all of her experiences, be they with Snake, her ineffectual mother, her therapist, or her high school classmates. However, Whitney Taylor does a bang up job of writing as a bratty, self-centered teenager; as much as I don’t like her, Reggie does feel very real.

Bonus Factor: Awesome Dad

Reggie’s dad, who makes his living as a taxidermist and is in the process of growing a Fu Manchu moustache, is one of the only people in Reggie’s life who makes her happy. He’s quiet, and often lets himself get railroaded by his wife, but he tries to stick up for Reggie when she needs it most.

(He doesn’t quite deserve the Keith Mars Award, but he tries!)

Factor: Mental Illness

I think it’s vitally important for YA books to discuss issues that affect teenagers, and depression is one of those issues that can hit hard while you're growing up. I’m not sure how well Definitions of Indefinable Things handled the discussion—everyone experiences depression differently, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of situation, of course—but the book did make it almost a character in its own right, which is a painfully accurate thing to do.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Love Triangle

The love triangle between Reggie, Snake, and his not-so-ex-girlfriend actually resolved quite nicely, thanks mostly to the understanding nature and maturity of said girlfriend. I just don’t think it really added that much to the story?

Anti-Bonus Factor: Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting

Reggie’s mom is kind of the worst. She thinks she’s trying to do right be her daughter by praying for her to get better, but is so completely ignorant of what’s really going on and how to be a proper support system to Reggie that it’s upsetting. Nothing against prayer, mind you—faith is a truly powerful thing—but Reggie’s mom uses her religious beliefs as a crutch, and a way to avoid actually dealing with Reggie’s issues. She thinks depression is more like a cold, and that with enough figurative chicken soup, Reggie will be right as rain in no time. This sort of viewpoint is not only harmful, but also heartbreaking.

Casting Call:

Taylor Momsen as Reggie

She’d have to dye her hair black (or get a wig), but Taylor’s got the attitude down pat.

Relationship Status: It’s Not Me

Sorry, Book. Too many red flags were raised during our time together to make me think we’ll ever have more than this one date. We’re just too different, and you have a lot of growing up to do.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from HMH Books for Young Readers, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Definitions of Indefinable Things is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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