Gupta’s decision to keep this warm, good-natured novel mostly linear puts too much focus on Cassie’s and Ronnie’s lives before introducing them, material that might have been better presented in flashbacks or as part of the extensive therapeutic sessions both characters attend. Nevertheless, he does an admirable job examining how personal growth, relationship growth, and mental health work together, both positively and negatively. While Cassie is around, Ronnie’s fear of imaginary followers lessens, but his sensitivity to rejection means Cassie’s tentative responses to his enthusiasm can trigger him into a psychotic break. Both characters are always presented sympathetically, given complexity beyond their diagnoses, and allowed substantial progress in self-awareness without dismissing lifelong issues as solvable.
Gupta is less assured when depicting introspection, overemphasizing the character’s reactions to outside events and putting big insights into the mouths of therapists or friends. The way Cassie’s abuse story and its resolution are handled leans slightly too heavily into dramatic voyeurism. Nevertheless, Cassie’s struggle to understand whether she could handle a life with someone with schizophrenia feels authentic, and her definitive answer at the end will prove encouraging to readers who may fear that their mental health might exclude them from love.
Takeaway: This warm novel highlights the possibility of supportive love for everyone, no matter what their challenges.
Great for fans of: Melanie Harlow’s Some Sort of Happy, Penny Reid’s Beard in Mind.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-