Book Review: Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz

Author: Sarah Elizabeth Schantz
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Released: April 7, 2015
Review Source: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Love and sacrifice intertwine in this brilliant and provocative debut of rare beauty about a girl dealing with her mother’s schizophrenia and her own mental illness.

Fig’s world lies somewhere between reality and fantasy.

But as she watches Mama slowly come undone, it becomes hard to tell what is real and what is not, what is fun and what is frightening. To save Mama, Fig begins a fierce battle to bring her back. She knows that her daily sacrifices, like not touching metal one day or avoiding water the next, are the only way to cure Mama.

The problem is that in the process of a daily sacrifice, Fig begins to lose herself as well, increasingly isolating herself from her classmates and engaging in self-destructive behavior that only further sets her apart.

Spanning the course of Fig’s childhood from age six to nineteen, this deeply provocative novel is more than a portrait of a mother, a daughter, and the struggle that comes with all-consuming love. It is an acutely honest and often painful portrayal of life with mental illness and the lengths to which a young woman must go to handle the ordeals—real or imaginary—thrown her way.

I had to look at this book from a YA that's where I'm coming from....Was this book well written? Absolutely. Was it about an interesting topic? Of course. Was it really a YA book? Not so much.

I have to admit that this book had exceptional writing. I was actually blown away by how the writing flowed so easily as I read it. The problem though, was that if a middle schooler or even a high schooler read this book, they would be lost after a couple of pages. The characters are the right age for a YA, but the writing was more literary and suitable for an adult. It was very lyrical and I have to give the author some credit for that.

The book starts off with Fig at the age of six and is told from her POV. I don't know a lot of YA readers who want to read about something from someone that young, but she does get older as the book goes on. The issues that Fig has to deal with because of her mom and her mental illness is pretty deep. There are deep books out there for YA, any of Ellen Hopkins' books, but I thought this one was a little too deep for a YA. I know there are kids out there who have to take care of their parents with mental illnesses, but this book, again, was a little too deep for several YA readers. There were parts that I found disturbing because Fig likes to hurt herself by picking at old scabs that then cause infections. The detail of these parts were very realistic and very gross.

In the end, I gave it a three tree review because the writing was really good but it wasn't really a YA book. This read more like an Adult Memoir. If it had been labeled and sold as an Adult book it would've been better and maybe even sell better. I would recommend this book who like leterary type books and memoirs, but I won't have this one on my classroom bookself.

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