‘Highly Illogical Behaviour’ – John Corey Whaley

Highly Illogical Behaviour

I picked this one up, not quite sure what to expect, and I think I can safely say it’s one of my favourite reads in a while.

When we first hear about Solomon it’s hard to know what to make of him. He’s sixteen and ever since the day he jumped in a fountain outside school he has not left his house. His panic attacks have led to severe agoraphobia and this is one of those conditions that is so hard to imagine. Loving the outdoors as I do, I can’t understand how things could be so bad that you shut yourself away from this experience in an attempt to keep yourself safe. The terrible effects of mental health issues not being discussed/addressed are all too evident here, and the ease with which Solomon disappears from the lives of his peers is telling.

Coming at the story from this viewpoint, I found myself quite irritated by the character of Lisa initially. A very determined young woman, Lisa resolves to befriend Solomon and ‘save’ him in order to write up her experience and get a scholarship to a psychology programme. It all feels very wrong, and I spent a lot of the first part of the novel almost hoping nothing would come of it as I was so concerned about the message this would send.

Thankfully, Whaley prevents this becoming mawkish with his portrayal of Sol who has to go down as one of the characters I would most like to know in real life. He’s all too aware of his limitations, is a complete geek with a very wicked sense of humour and shows himself to be a totally genuine character. I watched with admiration as he battles his fears while finding friendship, and even when things take a difficult turn Sol remains true to himself in a way that I felt was quite inspirational.

My response to Sol was, no doubt, helped by the character of Clark, Lisa’s boyfriend. Though he seemed to be added in as a third wheel initially, his role in the development of the story was pivotal. He, again, was a genuine character whom I came to admire tremendously. His friendship with Sol was touching, without having to be labelled in the way it seemed to be heading at one point.
In spite of my reservations about Lisa initially, she shows the capacity for development and growth that I think is so important to see. Sure she gets things wrong – horribly so – but she comes to acknowledge this and shows herself to be capable of doing what is necessary to rectify these problems.

As you can see, this was a book I thoroughly adored.