Freaks Like Us

Freaks Like Us

4.6 3
by Susan Vaught

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When Jason Milwaukee's best friend, Sunshine, disappears from the face of the earth, the whole town, including Jason, starts searching for her. But the insistent voices in Jason's head won't let him get to the heart of the mystery—he's schizophrenic, and the voices make it hard to know what is real and what is not. As the chase becomes more panicked, Jason's

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When Jason Milwaukee's best friend, Sunshine, disappears from the face of the earth, the whole town, including Jason, starts searching for her. But the insistent voices in Jason's head won't let him get to the heart of the mystery—he's schizophrenic, and the voices make it hard to know what is real and what is not. As the chase becomes more panicked, Jason's meds start wearing off, and he is looking more and more guilty. But of what, exactly? Both brilliantly witty and intensely honest, this poignant novel draws upon the author's many years as an adolescent psychologist, but it's Vaught's powerful voice and expertly crafted mystery that will keep the pages turning.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Hilary Crew
Seventeen-year-old Jason (Freak), Derrick (Drip), and Sunshine are best friends and refer to themselves as "alphabet" people, after the acronyms used for their disorders. On Monday, September 6, all three get off the school bus at the same stop but Sunshine never arrives home. When FBI Agent Robert Mercer arrives, Jason, a schizophrenic, finds himself under suspicion and is arrested when he is seen wearing Sunshine's gold locket which he found in their secret spot. As he is grilled by Mercer and searches for Sunshine with Derrick, Jason's first-person narration reproduces the confusion he experiences as a schizophrenic: the different voices accusing him for his stupidity and for hurting Sunshine, and the difficulty he has in distinguishing what is real from what is not. In stream-of-consciousness passages, he remembers good times between Sunshine and himself, and how he depends on her help. He remembers that on Saturday, she made him promise not to tell about her being upset, but worries that he hurt her even as he knows that he would never do so. The taut plot's chapter headings mark the passing hours. The reason for Sunshine's disappearance is solved when Jason thinks through what he knows with the help of Mercer and Sunshine's brother. Bullies and sex-offenders are exposed in a story that has, at its heart, respect for the disabled. Some characters (for example, Derrick and Mercer) are somewhat stereotyped. The tender romance between Jason and Sunshine offsets a didactic tone in this novel that has teen appeal. Reviewer: Hilary Crew
Children's Literature - Susan Cotter
No one ever listens to the alphabet kids. Whether they are ADHD, ODD or SCZI —schizophrenic—like Jason "Freak" Milwalkee, people are not interested in what they have to say. That is, until Freak's best friend Sunshine disappears. The FBI gets called in to find her and just about everyone in town pitches in to help. For some reason, they all seem to think Jason has something to do with her disappearance. His own parents do not even believe he is not involved. Jason wants to help, but as his meds wear off he becomes even less sure that he is not responsible. The clock is ticking. Jason has to decide whom to trust. If only the voices inside his head would shut up so he could think. A compelling psychological mystery told in an authentic voice that will keep teens turning the page. Readers may wonder, however, is there anyone in this town who is normal?
Kirkus Reviews
Jason is "Freak" to his peers and even his ADHD friend Drip, but not to Sunshine, who--though selectively mute--shares her thoughts and feelings with him. Now she's vanished, and Jason, whose schizophrenia has shaped his life, is a suspect in her disappearance. Seniors Jason, Drip and Sunshine have ridden the short bus and gone through school labeled SED--that's "Severely Emotionally Disturbed, for you long-bus people." Bullying at the hands of kids with behavioral disabilities goes unreported and unpunished, but the trio's alliance made life bearable in their catchall special ed program, where kids with vastly different abilities and disabilities are treated as extensions of their diagnosis acronyms. (Jason, whose irony is well-honed, calls them "alphabets.") Desperate to find Sunshine, Jason and Drip are wary of sharing all they know with adults who see them as extensions of their stigma. As the FBI investigates, Jason's always-shaky world threatens to come apart. Not taking "fuzzy pills" keeps his brain sharp, but the voices plaguing him grow louder. Jason carries Sunshine's secrets--should he break his promise not to tell? While the action is occasionally slow and repetitive--suspense arising more from Jason's internal battles than external action--readers will stick with him; he's sympathetic, compelling and smart. Navigating a harsh world, the psychologist author makes clear, amounts to an education in itself. An illuminating, recommended read. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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Freaks Like Us 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
acornucopiaoflove More than 1 year ago
Best Bits: First off, I think I should just say that I appreciate the uniqueness of the characters in Freaks Like Us. Yes, Jason and his friends have mental disorders, but as Vaught said in my interview with her, this isn't a book about life with schizophrenia. It's a book about friendship, love, and trust. The thing is, I think readers will gain a greater understanding of what it means to be diagnosed with something like schizophrenia. I'm not saying that the exact symptoms Jason experiences over the course of the book should be generalized to all people with schizophrenia. What I'm saying is that I hope this can help combat the stigma, and allows teens to look at how they treat people who are classified by society as "different" (even though they aren't different at all). Ok, off of my soap box...the story kept me on the edge of my seat. I literally read this in a night because I had to find out what happened to Sunshine! Vaught did an excellent job making me care about her characters, and keeping my in suspense. Nit Picks: Since this book is a fast read, it didn't always get as in-depth as I'd like. I really wanted to know more about the characters. The flashbacks from Jason's perspective did provide some insight into his friends and family, but I really wanted more. The ending, while shocking, is one that doesn't explain everything to the reader. I got just enough information to draw my own conclusions about what would happen to the characters. I know that's a pet peeve of some readers, so just be aware that it isn't going to spell it out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved every minute
xoxodarla More than 1 year ago
Loved the point of view this book was written from! Could not put it down.Just really liked it! Could not believe it did not have any reviews yet! I am in the middle of her second book! Love it too!