Book Review: The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati

The Weight of Zero 
Author: Karen Fortunati  
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Released: October 11th 2016
Review Source: Delacorte Press

Seventeen-year-old Cath knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disease, has almost triumphed once, propelling Catherine to her first suicide attempt. With Zero only temporarily restrained by the latest med du jour, time is running out. In an old ballet shoebox, Catherine stockpiles meds, preparing to take her own life when Zero next arrives.

But Zero’s return is delayed. Unexpected relationships along with the care of a new psychiatrist start to alter Catherine's perception of her diagnosis. But will this be enough? This is a story of loss and grief and hope and how the many shapes of love – maternal, romantic and platonic – impact a young woman’s struggle with mental illness.

The manuscript was awarded the 2014 SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant in the Contemporary YA category, named a finalist in the 2015 Tassey-Walden Awards and won the Serendipity Literary Agency 2013 YA First Page/Novel Discovery Contest.

Okay, this book, THIS. BOOK. has left me unable to form a proper response other than everyone must read this NOW!

The Weight of Zero tells the story of Catherine, a girl who struggles with the weight of her mental illness along with all the trials and turbulations of a high school teenage girl. Catherine was diagnosed with bipolar disorder shortly after the death of her grandmother and these two things trigger a series of events that lead Catherine to a life full of insecurities and fear that her disorder will never let her live a normal life.

I loved this book so much, for so many reasons that I don't want to dive into too much for fear of spoiling the story. Although I am not diagnosed with any mental illnesses, I relate to Catherine's fears and pain so much. There were a lot of times that I wanted to shake her, things were looking good but no matter how good things got she kept throwing herself back into the shadow of her diagnosis, letting those good feelings be crushed down to nothingness. Yet as the story progresses you start to see a change in Catherine, and you feel like you're changing too, taking in her experiences and feelings and using them as a mirror to look at your own and by the end you feel like you've also learned and changed right along with her. There are of course other important characters throughout the novel, from Chaterine's mom who is possibly one of my favorite literary moms from all the books i've ever read; the kids from her support group, one of which ends up becoming her best friend, and a few others that you have to experience for yourself to really appreciate them fully.

I highly highly highly recommend everyone to read this book, but I'll go ahead and put a trigger warning here for suicide. And I leave you with quote possibly one of my favorite quotes from the book, "Because our lives are in constant motion, and everything in life passes. The best of times don't last, as much as we'd like them to, but the worst of times don't last either. Even though it may feel like they do."

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