“I was the one he trusted. I was the one he loved, the only one who believed him, even when his own mother had locked him up and thrown away the key. And now, I was going to pass down the white tiled hallway, knock on his doctor’s office door, slam his secret notebook on her desk and make her read it, make her understand what he was hiding, make her see what only I had seen.”
April won’t let Jonah go without a fight. He’s her boyfriend–her best friend. She’ll do anything to keep him safe. But as Jonah slips into a dark depression, trying to escape the traumatic past that haunts him, April is torn. To protect Jonah, she risks losing everything: family, friends, an opportunity to attend a prestigious music school. How much must she sacrifice? And will her voice be loud enough to drown out the dissenters–and the ones in his head?
I didn’t think much about people with mental illnesses until I read this novel. I’ve read a busload of YA novels focusing on teens being in mental rehabilitation centers for bulimia or anorexia, but never about a young adult suffering from schizophrenia.
April is the epitome of a loner. She lurks the hallways of her high school and obsesses over how average she looks. Her lone wolf attitude goes into overdrive when her only friend, Kristin, moves away to a fancy boarding school. She feels as if it’s only her against the world. Then Jonah steps into her life and everything changes. He chose her over the so-called most beautiful and popular girl in the school. He stood up for April on many occasions and tactfully got the student body to stop bullying her. For the first half of the book, readers live with April in a kind of fairy-tale daze as her relationship with Jonah progresses. Throughout their honeymoon period, April has an unnerving feeling that something isn’t so right about Jonah. After she learns about what happened to him in the past, she’s stunned but no less attracted to Jonah. When Jonah loses his shit one day and is placed in the psych ward of Shady Grove Hospital, April centers all of her free time around being there for him and trying to aid his recovery, even when the voices in Jonah’s head tells him otherwise.
April’s character was hard for me to like, much less relate to, in the beginning. I got upset with how much she obsesses over Jonah even before he was committed to the mental hospital; Jonah suggests that they transfer to a high class art school to avoid the behavior of the students at their current school. She easily obliges. April gives the words brainless and compliant a whole new meaning. Still, I admired her for trying to understand what was happening to Jonah. She could’ve walked away from him and sunken deeper into depression and low self-esteem, but instead she decides to stand by Jonah and learn about the disease infecting his brain.
The highlight of this novel has to be when April is presenting her project on Medical History to her History class and uses Jonah’s situation as an example. It’s like watching fairy dust being sprinkled over Cinderella. For April to have the courage to be in front of her peers and delivering a speech is already a big thing, but for her to be sharing a personal story with the people who constantly torment her? That takes balls. Also, I loved the part where April goes to audition for the fancy music school.
Being with Jonah, giving that speech in front of her peers, and having the courage to audition at the fancy music school all seem to mold April into the kind of person she’s meant to be. This story is a twisted and yet realistic view of a girl coming of age despite the many curveballs life throws at her.
After April transforms into this mature and level-headed person, it’s easy to sympathize with her in the ending. She goes through more than a lifetime of stress trying to create a life that includes Jonah, and it was heart breaking to watch everything crumble away.
All in all, Your Voice is All I Hear gives a jarring look at what it means to lose everything while trying to fight off your demons.
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (September 1, 2015)
Genre: Teens & YA Fiction
Completed: August 2015