Cover of This is How I Find her by Sara Polsky. The face of a white girl photoshopped over an abandoned house

About the Book

Title: This is How I Find Her
Published: 2013

Cover Story: Here We Go Again
Drinking Buddy: Nope
Testosterone Level:  Let’s Talk About Our Feelings
Talky Talk:  Mother…what is the phrase? Isn’t quite herself today.
Bonus Factors: Mental Illness
Bromance Status: That Kid With Troubles I’m Guilted Into Befriending

Cover Story: Here We Go Again

Yep, there’s Sophie. I don’t have to task my brains to know exactly what she looks like, down to her eyebrows and the shape of her nose. No imagination required.

Kudos for the abandoned house, which, believe it or not, actually plays a role in the book.

The Deal:

Sophie has become used to her bipolar mother’s eccentric habits. The ice cream for breakfast. Driving around and looking at houses they could never afford, houses that aren’t even for sale. Fantasizing that Sophie is a dancer or a spy. Heck, her mom’s an artist, they’re all kind of crazy in their own way.

Until she crashes. Until she stays in bed for days. And Sophie is left to make sure they both eat, that the bills are paid, and that Mom doesn’t do anything…rash. And even back in junior high, Sophie realized that this left no room for a social life. Especially when the other kids started calling her mother crazy. Even her once-close cousin, Lelia.

But then, one day, Sophie discovers her mother passed out on the bed with an empty bottle of pills. Mother has to go away for a while. Sophie is sent to live with her mother’s sister, her uncle and her cousin Lelia, who she hasn’t talked to in years.

Amazingly, Sophie starts to enjoy her life. Her uncle is an architect, he lets her explore her own artistic talents by helping him sketch house plans. Though she and Lelia have little in common, they begin to remember how close they used to be. James, a former friend, starts following her around in a cute, non-stalky kind of way. For the first time, Sophie isn’t living for her mother.

Except it all has to end, right? Someday, Mom’s going to get out of that hospital and come home. And Sophie will be right back where she started. No, it’s best to forget this life. Not make friends. To drive them off if she has to. It’ll hurt less later.

Drinking Buddy: Nope

Two pints of beer cheersing with a "Denied" stamp over them

Why I can sympathize with Sophie’s problems, she’s a very flat and unassuming character. She certainly thinks about her problems a lot, but does little about them. Every time someone attempts to befriend her, she either suddenly explodes or runs away…literally. She’s the sort of character that things happen to, but does not make things happen.

Testosterone Level: Let’s Talk About Our Feelings

Sophie doesn’t even really talk about her feelings, she just thinks about them. Lots of internal dialogue, lots of flashbacks, lots of sitting alone in her room. Even the budding romance with James never really gets off the ground.

Talky Talk: Mother…what is the phrase? Isn’t quite herself today.

Yes, it’s a big important book about big important issues. But for me, it was slow with a main character I couldn’t bring myself to like. Kudos to Polsky for taking on the difficult subject of mental illness, but Sophie only had one emotion, and that was self-pity.

Bonus Factor: Mental Illness

Silhouette of a woman sitting sadly on the floor in front of a balcony

Dealing with a family member’s mental illness is a tough subject, and not one often found in YA. Holly Schindler’s book, A Blue So Dark, also deals with this touchy issue. Unfortunately, a lot of people still view the mentally ill as people to be mocked and avoided, and this book puts a human face on their struggles.

Bromance Status: That Kid With Troubles I’m Guilted Into Befriending

Well, I read the book and it was enjoyable. But it was an issues book which made it less entertaining. It’s a good take on the subject, but not the best.

FTC full disclosure: I I received a free copy (though no money) from the author.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.