It is not often that I come across a book that is quite like Susan Vaught’s Freaks Like Us. Under normal circumstances, I probably would not have even read this book. Contemporary YA fiction normally doesn’t interest me. What drew me in was the psychological aspect of the book. Jason Milwaukee, aka Freak, is schizophrenic. Even when he is taking his meds, there are always voices in his head. And though he would tell you that he does not see things, the hallucinations are particularly bad when he hasn’t taken his medication. He and his best friends, Sunshine and Derrick (aka Drip), are in a special class in high school for the severely emotionally disturbed and refer to their mental disabilities as their alphabet. Sunshine’s alphabet is SM (Selectively Mute), Drip’s ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and Freak’s SCZI (Schizophrenic). Every day is a struggle against their alphabet for Freak and his friends but when Sunshine vanishes one day after school and the entire town begins searching for her, Freak finds himself fighting a particularly difficult battle. When the FBI comes to help the search, Freak rapidly begins looking more and more guilty, especially as the voices in his head are telling him that it is his fault.
As I said above, it is not often that you find a book like this. I absolutely enjoyed reading Freaks Like Us and I am thoroughly happy that I was given the chance to review it. This story was heartwarming, disturbing, mysterious, and thoughtful and it truly opened my eyes to how Schizophrenia can affect a person’s life. It was rather difficult to follow at some points because the narrative followed a stream of consciousness mode, following Freaks every internal thought, including the voices. Freaks thoughts were almost always confusing and disorienting, but that was the point. In writing directly from Freak’s point of view as his thoughts, the hallucinations, and the voices come to him, we the reader are able to better understand what he is struggling with. Vaught truly put us in Freaks shoes with her writing giving readers a glimpse of how he feels everyday living with this disease. It is not a book about sympathy for those with this mental disease, rather a book about understanding what they go through and how they think and feel.
The mystery aspect of the story and Sunshine’s disappearance kept me captivated; it was difficult for me to even put it down because I wanted to know what had happened to Sunshine! From chapter one Freaks Like Us drew me in, slowly revealing Sunshine and Freak’s past and the secret that Freak wont even let himself remember. At some points it was both disturbing and eye opening, especially the violent hallucinations that Freak begins to see once his medication wears off. I was genuinely surprised by the ending of this book, though a few of the secrets were fairly easy for me to guess. Freak’s story was both touching and enjoyable and I would definitely recommend everyone read this story.
Freaks Like Us will be release on September 4, 2012
• Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (September 4th, 2012)
• Length: 250 pages, Hardcover
• Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Romance