A funny, moving love story about facing fears hand in hand - one snake/spider/potentially unstable fourth-floor balcony at a time. From acclaimed author of OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS, Krystal Sutherland. Esther Solar's family is . . . unusual. Her father hasn't left the basement in six years. Her brother is terrified of darkness. Esther isn't afraid of anything - because she avoids pretty much everything. Elevators are off limits, as are open spaces, crowds, family pets, birds, needles, haircuts, dolls and mirrors. But when Esther is pickpocketed by her cocky old classmate Jonah Walker, Esther and Jonah become surprising friends. Jonah sets a challenge: every week they must work their way through the world's fifty most common phobias. Skydiving, horse riding, beekeeping, public speaking, reptilehouses - they plan to do it all. Soon their weekly foray into fear becomes the only thing that keeps them tethered to reality, and to each other. But each is keeping a secret from the other, a secret that threatens to rip them apart.
I so wanted to love this book, and the premise was great; I loved that Esther Solar's whole family is 'unusual' in terms of them all having their own individual phobias and foibles. The characters were all hugely likeable based on that alone. Sadly however, I found that this book was far too quirky for me to get to grips with. It was like being in some alternate reality! I imagine this would be a 5-star book for the teen/young adult generation at which it was aimed (which sadly I do not fit into!) but I really struggled to keep up with the quirkiness. I can see that the majority of people absolutely loved this book, so I think it's just down to me choosing a book quite far out of my comfort zone.
This funny and thought-provoking novel deserves a wider audience than the young adults it seems aimed at.
I enjoyed the quirky style of the writing which helped lighten the mood, despite describing sometimes awful situations, and several references to unfamiliar aspects of US popular culture did not detract from this too much. I really cared about what happened to the lovable characters and the story never flagged.
I was a little frustrated by some of the magical elements of the story when it was difficult to work out how much was supposed to be down to Esther's vivid imagination. I also felt that certain changes in circumstances were not satisfactorily explained at the end.
However, the descriptions of anxiety felt true to life and the courage shown was inspirational.