Author: Leah Scheier
Synopsis: Everything about Jonah is unexpected. On the first day of school, he sits next to April, when he could have chosen to sit with the popular girl. He turns down an invitation to join the school team and declares he’d rather paint. He encourages April to develop her musical talent and shrugs off the bullies that torment them. April isn’t surprised to find herself falling for Jonah. The unexpected part is when he falls for her too.
But the giddy happiness of their first romance begins to fade when Jonah’s unpredictability begins to take a darker turn. April understands that her boyfriend is haunted by a painful memory, but his sudden mood swings worry her. She can’t explain his growing fear of cellphones, electric keyboards, and of sounds that no one else can hear. Still, no matter what happens, April is sure that she’ll always stand by him. Until Jonah finally breaks and is committed to a psychiatric ward. Until schizophrenia changes everything.
Though everyone urges her to let him go, April stays true to Jonah. But as the boy she adores begins to disappear in front of her, she has to face her worst fear: that her love may not be enough to save him.
Huge thank you to Raincoast Books for this ARC!
This book was an unexpected surprise for me. When I started it, it felt like just an ‘okay read’ that slowly developed into me wanting to huddle into a corner and cry. There’s a lot of tough issues in this book that are at play and Scheier does an amazing job balancing them with the core issue of the novel: how do you love and stay with someone who you know needs more help than they want to admit to?
Because this novel deals with a character who suffers from schizophrenia, you are given a story that bursts with aggression, emotion and it leaves you feeling drained. April is in love with a boy who thinks he’s hearing voices, is haunted by the death of someone, and also feels as through he has been split into two different people. Jonah is such a wonderfully rich and well written character, and if anything I love the fact that he tries so hard to control himself but knows in a lot of ways that he is ill. April wants him to get help and Jonah feels as though the world is out to get him and April is the only person he can trust.
There’s a lot to take into with this story. I admit, I was worried about April’s character in the story because she’s introduced as the token invisible girl, but I liked the way in which she develops throughout the course of the story. She’s a young woman whose never had to make difficult decisions, yet being with Jonah is both the most beautiful, destructive thing she faces. It’s gut-wrenching the decisions April makes in the story and you see her fighting for her relationship, on top of the fact that she wants to do right by Jonah in so many ways.
What I also ended up loving about her character (and this may have more to do with the writing) is the way Scheier builds the friendship between Kristin and April. A lot of their relationship was something I could relation to in some ways, especially when it came to friends trying to have the other see something they aren’t, regardless of how much it hurts. I liked the resolve between them, and I appreciated the way in which there is so much development between them — Kristin didn’t feel like she was tacked on, she felt as much of a character as everyone else did. I also loved Jonah’s sister Katie — she was just so cheeky and yet you can see how caught in the middle she is at such a young age. I also liked how April got into touch with her Jewish heritage in the story, which was a nice little addition in her development (and I have to say, I learned quite a bit!)
I felt like I learned a lot about mental illness and how much it can affect a relationship. There’s such a realistic portrayal of how mental illness changes someone, and how it is handled by loved ones. I especially enjoyed the way the novel ended, especially because I felt if it ended any other way it would be such a cop out.Your Voices Is All I Hear is beautifully written, thoroughly engaging, tough to read, and doesn’t pull any cheap tricks to play with emotions. The book is raw, has wonderfully developed and characters, and the ending will leave quite the hole in your heart.