The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati
Expected Publication: October 11th 2016 by Delacorte Press
Number of Pages: 400 Pages (Hardcover)
Seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disorder, almost triumphed once; that was her first suicide attempt.
Being bipolar is forever. It never goes away. The med du jour might work right now, but Zero will be back for her. It’s only a matter of time.
And so, in an old ballet-shoe box, Catherine stockpiles medications, preparing to take her own life before Zero can inflict its living death on her again. Before she goes, though, she starts a short bucket list.
The bucket list, the support of her family, new friends, and a new course of treatment all begin to lessen Catherine’s sense of isolation. The problem is, her plan is already in place, and has been for so long that she might not be able to see a future beyond it.
This is a story of loss and grief and hope, and how some of the many shapes of love—maternal, romantic, and platonic—affect a young woman’s struggle with mental illness and the stigma of treatment. (goodreads.com)
* Thank you, Karen, for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review *
There are books you know you will like, and there are books that manage to exceed all your hopes and expectations. The Weight of Zero was high on my list of anticipated reads of 2016 and it didn't fail to deliver, beat all my expectations by a tenfold and easily stands a giant chance at being my book of the year 2016, even though it's only April.
The Weight of Zero belongs to my favorite kind of books, those contemporaries that deal with hard topics such as depression and bipolar, as in the case of this one. Knowing that, I was painfully aware, and afraid, of all the tropes that could possibly litter this one, but, thankfully, I found none of them. The Weight of Zero shows a very truthful and realistic, raw and honest portrayal of those two mental illnesses, of life, friendships, and love with them, and it does it brilliantly.
Our protagonist in The Weight of Zero is Catherine who, as mentioned before, is suffering of bipolar and depression which drives her to the decision that, at some point in the foreseeable future, she wants to commit suicide. That sounds really sad, might be discouraging to some, but her tale isn't sad. It's very honest, intriguing and funny at times, offering insights into both the social and psychological aspect of living with a mental illness, or multiple ones.
I absolutely loved Catherine. Her voice felt like that of a young adult with quirks and thoughts that felt like ones something someone of her age would actually have. I loved how passionate she was about their history project, loved her relationship with her new friends and the way she started to change over time. Her character arc was amazing and I loved every second of it. She wasn't one of those perfect Mary Sue type girls who only realized their true worth and everything because of a boy, no, she does it all on her own and it's beautiful to watch. Something else that stood out to me was how she learned to differentiate between her self and her illness, understanding that they are two different things, not a single one.
Speaking of her friends, I loved Kristal. She was an amazing character, a wonderful friend, and just generally someone I would love to be friends with in real life. I loved every scene in which we saw the two of them interact, even the sadder ones, because it really felt like reading about two young girls and not forty year old philosophers.
And Michael was just perfect in every way. He wasn't your typical swoon worthy "Mr. Six pack I could have every girl I want and I'm a bad boy" type love interest, but rather an ordinary boy with a wonderfully crazy family. He was amazing, toward Catherine and his friend. He also seemed like someone I would have loved to be friends with during my school times.
Another thing I loved about The Weight of Zero was the fact that it showed that the right medication and psychiatrist can really have very positive effects on you and your journey with mental illnesses. Usually, we only see medication shown in a either neutral or negative way, but here we see the positive one, which is definitely something I wish we could see more often. The same goes for Catherine's psychiatrist who is great at his job and shows that they are really there to help you and not make you feel worse or force you into talking and doing things you don't want to my manipulating you.
When it comes to Karen Fortunati's writing style, I can only say that I think it's amazing and her voice for Catherine was intriguing, realistic and great. Her trains of thoughts made sense, the way she described certain scenes and moments was captivating, and it really made you feel whatever it was that was happening to Catherine. I cannot wait to see what Karen will write next because I will definitely read it.
All in all, I think The Weight of Zero is one of those wonderful examples of a hard topic book done very much very right. It shows a really realistic view at mental illnesses and living with them, it gives you hope and shows that you can still have a normal and happy life despite them, that even during dark moments, there are still good ones. So I can only dearly recommend this book on so many levels, no matter if you're looking for a book with wonderful friendships, a cute romance or a hard topic book in general, this one is a very good choice fitting all three of them.
I give The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati 5 out of 5 Stars.