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A World Without You by Beth Revis

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What if finding her means losing himself?

Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his worried parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have “superpowers.”

At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofía, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Soíia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofía, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age.

But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she’s not actually dead. He believes that she’s stuck somewhere in time—that he somehow left her in the past, and that now it’s his job to save her. And as Bo becomes more and more determined to save Sofía, he must decide whether to face his demons head-on or succumb to a psychosis that will let him be with the girl he loves.

Goodreads Summary

It's difficult not to use my Neuroscience background to analyze this novel (whenever I do that it tends to ruin all fiction novels). Bo is a teenage boy with a serious delusion disorder. He believes that he can see the "timestream" and that he can choose to go back in time. He tampers with going forward in time and wants to change what has already happened in the past. He believes that he is attending a school for gifted children who have certain powers. The other children don't matter nearly as much to him as Sofia, a young girl with a serious depressive disorder whose mother and two sisters were killed in an automobile crash. When she commits suicide, Boy is convinced that he actually dropped her off in time somewhere and has to go back in time to go and save her. 

Although the summary does not say much about Phoebe, a good chunk of the novel is written from her viewpoint. She has to endure having a brother with special needs. She's just a teen herself and gives up a lot because of her brother. She knows that it is important that he "heal," but she can't help but think sometimes that he is selfish. I preferred Phoebe over Bo's delusions and sometimes willful choosing of his delusions (debatable in the science community). 

The author did a decent job at describing an unspecified mental disorder. I could tell that she had looked into several disorders that could somewhat fit Bo. Often, it is not possible to identify a disorder that fits perfectly with the given symptoms. I could go into why Bo wasn't a fully accurate representation of a true disorder, but I do believe that unless we have experienced it ourselves we cannot fully say one way or the other no matter what traditional science says. I liked how the other students at the school for "exceptional" children fit into his delusions and hallucinations. I really did love how the author fit Bo's hallucinations like puzzle pieces into the plot of the story and into reality. I spent about a day reading this book, but I think I will remember Bo for much longer than that. I was not surprised by the ending, but it's rare to find a book that is truly shocking.

3 Stars

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