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Schizo: A novel
     

Schizo: A novel

4.5 4
by Nic Sheff
 

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The fascinating, shocking, and ultimately quite hopeful story of one teen’s downward spiral into mental illness by the bestselling author of Tweak.

Miles’s little brother Teddy is missing. The police believe he drowned at the beach—the very same day Miles had his first schizophrenic episode. But Miles knows better—Teddy is

Overview

The fascinating, shocking, and ultimately quite hopeful story of one teen’s downward spiral into mental illness by the bestselling author of Tweak.

Miles’s little brother Teddy is missing. The police believe he drowned at the beach—the very same day Miles had his first schizophrenic episode. But Miles knows better—Teddy is alive. Kidnapped. There was even a witness! Fueled by guilt, Miles sets off to rescue Teddy.

There is so much to overcome, though. The endless pills he must take. The girl who steals his heart and plays with it. The black crows that follow him.

As seen through Miles’s distorted perception, his world closes around him as he pushes to keep it open. What you think you know about his world is actually a blur of gray, though, and the sharp focus of reality proves startling.

The New York Times bestselling author of Tweak offers a fascinating and ultimately quite hopeful story of one teen’s downward spiral into mental illness.
 
Praise for SCHIZO

“Readers fascinated by the dark side of the human mind in realistic fiction will enjoy this deft portrayal of a brain and a life spiraling out of control. Miles is an endearing character whose difficult journey will generate compassion and hope."—School Library Journal

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
07/14/2014
Sixteen-year-old Miles has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and he explains to readers that he had his first delusion on the same day that his younger brother, Teddy, disappeared from a San Francisco beach. While Teddy is presumed to have drowned, Miles believes a witness who claims he was kidnapped and becomes obsessed with the idea that “Teddy is out there. It’s up to me to bring him home.” After Miles flushes his pills, the voices in the head take him down a dangerous, self-destructive path. In his first novel, memoirist Sheff (Tweak) provides an insightful perspective on one teen’s struggle with mental illness, including the challenges of finding the right medications to treat his condition. Sheff’s spare writing style, combined with descriptions of San Francisco’s foggy skies and Miles’s own neglected home that “lets in water when it rains,” creates a mood of isolation and desperation that permeates the story. While the ending wraps up a bit neatly with a rather cinematic revelation, it also provides a welcome note of hope after Miles’s hard-fought quest for peace. Ages 14–up. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Sept.)
VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Victoria Friend
The narration in Schizo is jarring, thanks to Miles’s schizophrenia, and gives the book a slightly distracting, disjointed effect; however, the crafting of the plot and the convergence of the different storylines keeps pages turning. Although Miles’s disease affects the story’s coherence negatively, it is handled masterfully as a plot device, keeping readers on their toes as Miles struggles with his own mind. Although the content is mature, Schizo is a thrilling read for teens. Reviewer: Victoria Friend, Teen Reviewer; Ages 15 to 18.
VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Rebecca Moore
Two years ago, now-sixteen-year-old Miles first tried pot. It triggered a schizophrenic episode, and since then, the disease has ripped his and his family’s lives apart—mostly because during Miles’s episode, his brother Teddy vanished. The police think Teddy drowned, but Miles is convinced he was kidnapped. If Miles can just bring his brother back, then his parents—who never mention Teddy anymore—will finally forgive him. Secretly, Miles tries to solve the mystery of his brother’s disappearance, but gets distracted by the return of a former crush who now seems interested in him. As Miles struggles with schizophrenia, medication side effects, his feelings for Eliza, and his guilt about Teddy, he can feel himself going over the edge. What is really going on in Miles’s mind? Is there any hope of a future for him? This spare book is a well-written, but painful, read, as readers come to understand the hopelessness Miles feels about his life and his future. For much of the book, Miles seems completely lucid, which may throw off readers expecting hallucinations and other “typical” schizophrenic behavior. However, it gradually comes to light just how tragically the disease has been affecting him throughout the story, and just how earnest and honest an unreliable narrator can be. While written to help teens understand mental illness and to give hope to those struggling with such diseases, the book never feels didactic, and does end with a feeling of cautious hope. This is best suited for high school collections. Reviewer: Rebecca Moore; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
06/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—Sheff's novel reveals the painful and confusing world of teenage schizophrenia through the experience of Miles, a junior at a small San Francisco private school, where his mother works as a librarian. Miles's few friends only barely understand his struggle to hold on to reality, a tenuous grasp maintained through a dizzying array of pills and the love of his family. Miles is consumed by guilt at the kidnapping or death of his little brother Teddy on the same day he had his first extreme breakdown in a beach bathroom. Two years before, Miles believes, he destroyed his family. Now he believes that if he can just track down Teddy, he can restore their happiness and perhaps move forward himself. His plan is complicated by the return of Eliza, a close childhood friend whom he came to love and who rebuffed him just before her family moved away for two years. She missed his diagnosis and tentative re-entry to high school, plagued by the effects of his medication and suffering through frequent visits to a psychiatrist his family can't really afford. Now that she might actually return his feelings for her, Miles is distracted by Eliza when he needs to focus on Teddy's kidnapper. His visions of menacing crows and some questionable decisions indicate that Miles may be falling deeper into mental illness. Readers fascinated by the dark side of the human mind in realistic fiction will enjoy this deft portrayal of a brain and a life spiraling out of control. Miles is an endearing character whose difficult journey will generate compassion and hope.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA
Kirkus Reviews
2014-06-10
A teen with schizophrenia is getting better—isn’t he?Miles has a slew of meds that keep him just stable enough to function, if not enough for popularity. The medication keeps his schizophrenia under control, but it can’t do anything about his guilt and grief over lost baby brother Teddy. Teddy vanished (perhaps drowned, perhaps kidnapped) the day Miles’ hallucinations first manifested, and his family is saturated with misery, refusing to speak about Teddy and hiding all photographs of him. Miles is convinced he can fix his family’s dysfunction if only he can find Teddy, and he sets out on a disjointed, confused but passionate quest for his brother’s kidnapper. Meanwhile he negotiates relationships: with his best friend, who is careless with Miles’ safety when pressuring him to use drugs and alcohol; with his best friend’s girlfriend, the only person who actually looks out for Miles; and with his childhood sweetheart, who is both popular and a two-faced back-stabber. Miles’ mental health may not be improving as much as he thinks it is, and his quest culminates in disturbing revelations. Overly choppy prose attempts to represent Miles’ delusional state of mind but mostly serves to distract; still, this is a cleareyed, surprisingly hopeful look at the disorder.Given the grim reality of medical management of schizophrenia (and the bleakness of depictions of it in teen fiction), the cautious optimism of Miles’ life is most welcome. (Fiction. 14-17)
From the Publisher
Gr 9 Up–Sheff’s novel reveals the painful and confusing world of teenage schizophrenia through the experience of Miles, a junior at a small San Francisco private school, where his mother works as a librarian. Miles’s few friends only barely understand his struggle to hold on to reality, a tenuous grasp maintained through a dizzying array of pills and the love of his family. Miles is consumed by guilt at the kidnapping or death of his little brother Teddy on the same day he had his first extreme breakdown in a beach bathroom. Two years before, Miles believes, he destroyed his family. Now he believes that if he can just track down Teddy, he can restore their happiness and perhaps move forward himself. His plan is complicated by the return of Eliza, a close childhood friend whom he came to love and who rebuffed him just before her family moved away for two years. She missed his diagnosis and tentative re-entry to high school, plagued by the effects of his medication and suffering through frequent visits to a psychiatrist his family can’t really afford. Now that she might actually return his feelings for her, Miles is distracted by Eliza when he needs to focus on Teddy’s kidnapper. His visions of menacing crows and some questionable decisions indicate that Miles may be falling deeper into mental illness. Readers fascinated by the dark side of the human mind in realistic fiction will enjoy this deft portrayal of a brain and a life spiraling out of control. Miles is an endearing character whose difficult journey will generate compassion and hope. — School Library Journal

"[A}n insightful perspective on one teen’s struggle with mental illness."—Publishers Weekly

Praise for SCHIZO:

Included in CNN.com's roundup of "new titles to feed your YA addiction"

“Readers fascinated by the dark side of the human mind in realistic fiction will enjoy this deft portrayal of a brain and a life spiraling out of control. Miles is an endearing character whose difficult journey will generate compassion and hope.” –School Library Journal

“[T]he crafting of the plot and the convergence of the different storylines keeps pages turning. Schizo is a thrilling read for teens.” –VOYA 

"[A}n insightful perspective on one teen’s struggle with mental illness." –Publishers Weekly

"Miles’s clipped first-person narration is immediate and intimate." –Horn Book

"[A] heartbreaking story, but particularly important in the climate around mental illness today." –Bustle.com

 

"[A] heartbreaking story, but particularly important in the climate around mental illness today."—Bustle.com

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399164378
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
09/30/2014
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
885,124
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

1.

It’s starting again.
There’s a sound like an airplane descending loudly in my ear. I can’t quite place it. The sweat is cold down my back. I feel my heart beat faster. My hands shake.
God, I can’t take it.
I can’t.
If it happens again . . .
I hold my breath, waiting.
The sound fades in and out—high-pitched, whining.
Preston and Jackie don’t seem to notice.
They’re on his bed together, which is really just like a futon on the floor, watching this old Billy Wilder movie.
Preston’s arm is around her, and her arm is around him.
They are tangled together . . . intertwined.
Two separate people joined together into someone new and different, but still the same.
Not that I don’t like Jackie. I mean, she’s great. She’s super great. And super nice.
They both are.
That’s why they let me hang out with them.
Cause, believe me, I bring nothing to the table.
I’m totally what you’d call a charity case.
They let me hang out and watch movies and play video games until finally Preston’ll give me a look like, Yo, me’n my girl need to have some sex right now. And so then I’ll leave.
And go home—back to my family’s little three-bedroom house on the avenues, the opposite of Preston’s palatial mansion up here near the Palace of Legion of Honor. The house is like an old Gothic castle, paid for by the network TV show both his parents were on in the nineties. They played a couple on the show—a pair of married lawyers.
They’re retired and they spend most of their time traveling.
Leaving Preston alone with no one but Olivia, the housekeeper.
And Jackie, of course.
Sometimes I like to think that Preston and Jackie are my parents. Except that Preston is such a big pothead. He has basically his own floor in his parents’ house with a grow room set up in the closet.
I used to smoke, too, before it made me go crazy.
But that was more than two years ago.
I’m sixteen now, and it’s been over a year since my last episode.
Only there’s this shrill, piercing scream coming in and out of auditory focus.
It’s happening again.
Preston picks up his intricately blown glass bong from the carpeted floor in front of him and takes a big hit, exhaling away from me and Jackie—being polite and all.
The thick gray smoke from his lungs smells sweet and pungent, and Preston says, “Goddamn.” And then he coughs.
Jackie looks over at me and rolls her eyes, but in a sweet way.
Her eyes are this intense green color, so if I look into them when I’m talking, I get distracted and lose my train of thought. She has a long, angular nose and is tall and thin with dark black skin. She could be, like, a high-fashion model doing runway shows or whatever. She is lovely. If I weren’t crazy maybe I could have a girl like her.
But it’s not just that.
Preston is . . .
I don’t even know.
He is everything.
And he has everything.
If she’s like a high-fashion model, then he’s like some kinda rock star. He has long hair parted down the middle and a scruffy beard and square jaw. He’s tall and naturally muscular, and it’s just the way he carries himself, like he doesn’t care at all.
He’s been this way ever since I can remember—calm and collected and unconcerned.
Preston and I met back when we were both ten years old going to this summer camp up in Watsonville right after his grandmother died. He used to stay up nights talking to me about her. Preston still makes, like, this big deal about it. I didn’t think I did anything that special, but I guess it meant a lot to him.
We’ve been best friends ever since—even though I didn’t start actually going to school with him until my mom got the job working in the library at Stanyan Hill my seventh grade year. It’s a private school, so otherwise we’d never have been able to afford it. My mom and dad kept talking about how much better an education I’d get at Stanyan, but all I cared about was being able to hang out with Preston.
I watch him on the bed watching the movie. His arm is around Jackie, and he’s resting his head absently on her shoulder. He’s wearing a ripped hoodie over a vintage David Bowie T-shirt, sitting cross-legged, staring at the TV with a stoned innocence—smiling.
Jackie absently strokes his hair and then kisses him on the forehead.
They are so effortless together.
And then there is that noise again—buzzing, screaming—darting in and out.
I look around.
I am sure somehow that this noise is not a real noise at all. This noise is my disease—nothing but corroded synapses and misfiring chemical reactions.
Just when I’d started to think things were getting back to normal again, the medication must’ve stopped working.
The air is thick and greasy-feeling from the pot smoke and the incense and our collective breathing.
I fumble to get a cigarette out of my pack.
“Miles, you all right?” Jackie whispers—staring like she wants to see inside of me to figure out the answer to her question.
I space out into her eyes for a second.
“W . . . what? No. I mean, yeah, I’m fine.”
“You sure?”
“Yeah,” I tell her. “Totally.”
But Preston’s room is suddenly hot and claustrophobic-feeling, and the sweat on my skin is itching fucking bad. The shades are drawn and the windows are closed, and the only light is coming from the TV. I’m sitting on the carpeted floor next to Preston’s bed, wanting to scratch my back, my arms, everywhere, but not doing it ’cause Jackie is still trying to figure out if I’m all right.
“You wanna go smoke a cigarette?” she asks me.
I pause, listening for that sound.
“Miles?”
And that’s when I see it.
Right there, on Jackie’s bare shoulder, a giant mosquito. I watch as it hovers and lands and then sticks her and she calls out, “Ow, fuck!”
She slaps at her shoulder, squishing the thing against her so it kind of pops, leaving behind some blackish-looking guts and whatever amount of her blood it had managed to extract before getting dead.
“What?” Preston asks her, his voice hoarse. “What is it, baby?”
She wipes the blood and bits of splattered insect away with her hand. “Aw, gross, a mosquito.”
Preston leans over to look. “In here?”
She laughs a little. “Uh, yeah . . . duh.”
She grabs some Kleenex out of a box near the bed and wipes her hand clean, throwing the wadded-up tissue in the small black plastic trash bin.
And that’s when she notices me—smiling big, rocking back and forth.
“What?” she asks, crossing her arms.
“It was a mosquito,” I tell her.
She stares blankly. “And?”
I laugh and shake my head.
She keeps on staring at me.
"Are you sure you're all right?"
I go on and laugh some more.
Because, I mean, that’s the f'ing question, isn’t it?

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"[A}n insightful perspective on one teen’s struggle with mental illness."—Publishers Weekly

Meet the Author

Nic Sheff is a columnist for The Fix and the author of two memoirs about his struggles with addiction, the New York Times-bestselling Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines and We All Fall Down. He also wrote for the hit TV series The Killing. Nic lives in Los Angeles, California. Follow @nic_sheff

Meet Nic Sheff, the bestselling author of Tweak, an unforgettable memoir, who now delivers a gripping debut novel 

As a teenager and young adult I struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, as well as severe mental illness issues—bipolar disorder, depression, psychosis. My first two books were memoirs about my experience battling addiction. For my first novel, I wanted to continue my exploration of psychological issues within the framework of a thriller. When two of my family’s friends, both high-schoolers, were diagnosed with schizophrenia, I began researching the illness. Apparently this disease, which often lies dormant in teens, has been surfacing earlier and earlier in those with a genetic predisposition to the illness after these kids try smoking pot—because our pot is so much stronger than it ever has been. I wanted to examine what happens to someone who experiences the symptoms of schizophrenia while still a teenager, someone trying to balance the hardships of mental illness at such a fragile time of life—the everyday struggles of high school and relationships. Much of the novel is borrowed from my own experience, but it is also a departure. I hope it shows that mental illness is not a death sentence.

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Schizo: A novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
justcelina More than 1 year ago
really wanna read this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A quick and easy read for me. The book isn't quite what I expected or hoped for, but was still good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finished this book in a day!  This book draws you in front the first page and carries you until the end. The book is excellently written and the character development is flawless! The twists and turns that this book takes will leave your heart racing and gasping for air! Nic Sheff perfectly captures the tone and strain of mental illness! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it. I finished it in one day. YA books rock!