Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern
Published: 10-2-2007 by Feiwel and Friends
Get the book: Amazon
Anna Bloom is depressed—so depressed that her parents have committed her to a mental hospital with a bunch of other messed-up teens. Here, she meets a roommate with a secret (and a plastic baby), a doctor who focuses way too much on her weight, and a cute, shy boy who just might like her. But wait! Being trapped in a loony bin isn’t supposed to be about making friends, losing weight, and having a crush, is it?
I’ve always been pretty interested in reading Young Adult books about mental health. The first book I read that addressed a mental health disorder as part of the story was Deb Caletti’s The Nature of Jade. In Get Well Soon, Anna’s depression isn’t just a part of the story – it’s the reason for the entire plot. The story is loosely based on the author’s own experience in a mental health hospital, yet this book manages to be funny as well as raw.
- Anna – She’s easy to empathize with, and her outlook on all the weird things going on in the mental hospital is unique and funny. It’s easy to understand her anger and confusion with her parents, her fear about readjusting to “the real world”, and the hope she finds when she makes friends with her fellow “inmates”.
- the other patients – Everyone was interesting to read about. In the mental hospital, the teens’ issues range from pregnancy to suicide to Satan worship. Each of Anna’s friends has their own personal problems to work through while they’re there. It was great to hear all of their opinions on life and the hospital.
- plot – Anna has to deal with ridiculous hospital stuff, like giving other people Appreciations, moving up to Level 3, and sticking out 2 fingers for permission to talk. There are rules that make no sense and forced interactions with other people during group therapy. Overall, the balance between Anna’s personal life – finding love and hope – and her depression – working with her therapist and avoiding panic attacks – is perfect.
- Justin – I loved the mystery of Justin’s past, and Anna noticing the small things about him. They’re obsession with music and the way it factors into Justin’s story was something I really enjoyed. There’s no insta-love here, it’s a slow romance that I thought was wonderful.
- parents / real life – I think Anna let her parents off the hook pretty easy considering they dropped her in a mental hospital. How do you reconnect with your parents after all that? I would be interested in reading about Anna readjusting to her home life and going back to school. She and her new friends all seemed pretty worried about how things were going to be for them when they leave.
- It was Sean’s turn to choose TV stations (why is it always his turn?), and he puts on “Full House” again. I don’t get it: Is there a “Full House” channel that only mental hospitals subscribe to? Who else would? – pg. 121
- People sent me get well soon cards while I was in a mental hospital. There were fluffy little bunnies, floaty rainbows, and even a religious card. I could understand that Hallmark probably doesn’t make “Get Sane Soon” cards, but still. Was I not well before? Am I well now? Who decides? – pg. 190