In The Chance You Won’t Return, Annie Cardi explores mental illness through protagonist Alex Winchester. Alex is a high school student trying to get her driver’s license. However, before she can finally pass that test (and believe me, she’s tried), her mother stops becoming her mother in exchange for a different life. In other words, her mother starts thinking that she’s Amelia Earhart instead of Mrs. Winchester. Her delusions are getting worse and worse, and everything else is going downhill as well. Where’s the high school life where you get a boyfriend and that license? Apparently not in Alex’s, or is it?
I actually contacted Annie to get my hands on this ARC because I was so intrigued. In case you’re curious, Annie was super nice about it all, and I have her to thank for the ARC. (And you have her to thank as well about this review!) I was going to write praises about this book either way, but the book itself turned out to be laudable! And no, I’m not just saying that because I read an advanced copy, I’m saying that because The Chance You Won’t Return is an incredibly well-written, mind-opening book.
I think the plot deserves many rounds of applause. Not only does Annie manage to create a great plot, but she actually follows through. Although I have no personal experience with mental illnesses, Alex’s mom turned out to be a plausible character. Every character’s actions was logical, and that fact in itself is rare in the YA world these days. Although I think the book would have been much stronger without the romance, overall the plot was above average.
However, there’s a reason why The Chance You Won’t Return is not my all time favorite book. Although the plot is extraordinary, the writing itself is not. I’m not entirely sure if it’s Alex as a character or the writing style, but either way I was frequently bored with the writing. Alex doesn’t have a distinctive voice, so maybe that’s why I skimmed a good portion of the book…
Anyways, let’s not dwell too long on that. As boring as I felt certain parts were, I still must emphasize the fact that you absolutely must read this book. Unfortunately, most of today’s YA books are dystopian. In contrast, The Chance You Won’t Return is the only YA book I’ve read so far in this category. Honestly, this book has opened my mind and helped me to realize what relatives of the mentally ill (for lack of a better word) are going through.
Read this book. I promise you that you will get something out of it.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Publisher: Candlewick Press (April 22, 2014)
ISBN #: 9780763662929
Genres: YA, Romance, Realistic Fiction