The Symptoms of My Insanity

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Overview

For fans of Louise Rennison, Sarah Mlynowski, and Stephanie Perkins comes a laugh-out-loud, bittersweet debut full of wit, wisdom, heart, and a hilarious, unforgettable heroine.

It's kind of crazy how you can pay so much attention to yourself and still not see a thing.

Izzy is a hypochondriac with enormous boobs that won't stop growing, a mother with a rare disease who's hiding something, a best friend who appears to have undergone a ...

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The Symptoms of My Insanity

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Overview

For fans of Louise Rennison, Sarah Mlynowski, and Stephanie Perkins comes a laugh-out-loud, bittersweet debut full of wit, wisdom, heart, and a hilarious, unforgettable heroine.

It's kind of crazy how you can pay so much attention to yourself and still not see a thing.

Izzy is a hypochondriac with enormous boobs that won't stop growing, a mother with a rare disease who's hiding something, a best friend who appears to have undergone a personality transplant, and a date with an out-of-her-league athlete who just spilled Gatorade all over her. Yes, Izzy Skymen has a hectic life. But what Izzy doesn't realize is that these are only minor symptoms of life's insanity. When she discovers that the people she trusts most are withholding from her the biggest secrets, things are about to get epic — or is it epidemic?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Izzy struggles with boys who make rude comments about her curvy shape and a critical mother who tells her "your body delivers a very specific message, whether you want it to or not." She has other problems, too, including her mother's cancer, an important art scholarship deadline, and cute but confusing Blake, who makes her wonder if she's his "Art Friend or Girlfriend." Izzy's problems come to a head when Blake takes a revealing photo of her, which quickly goes viral at school; at the same time, Izzy's mother has to have emergency surgery and may die. Izzy finally expresses her feelings, both face-to-face and through her art. Despite Izzy's lovably neurotic nature, readers may tire of tracking the overwhelming number of problems in her life, especially when some of these problems, like her hypochondria, seem scripted to make a point ("If I was sick... Mom could concentrate on something about me that's potentially fixable"). Even so, readers will likely appreciate a refreshing upheaval of mean-girl stereotypes when the other girls at school come up with a creative solution to at least one of Izzy's problems. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
Booklist
"Hilarious . . . It's a generous book, overstocked with characters and dialogue, and it should succeed in putting any reader's problem into a wider, and funnier, perspective."
BCCB
"All of the women in this character-driven book are forces of nature . . . Pitch-perfect."
Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
Fifteen-year-old Izzy is in adolescent hell. At the opening of the book, she finds herself "standing inside a large fitting room at Lola's Lingerie. Oh, and there are three hands on my breasts." Izzy is in an awkward position. She is developing early and at a galloping pace so that her underwear, blouses, and even her winter coat are not fitting properly any longer. Her wardrobe consists of very baggy clothes, but she still attracts comments of envy from her friends, and boys "totally torture" her with derisive remarks. Her physical condition is not all that is troubling Izzy. Her father is out of the picture; it seems he has gone through a midlife crisis, moved across the country, and married someone half his age. Her older sister Allissa seems to be trying to fill the parent gap, as Izzy explains: "Allissa's in college and she's really into her Abnormal Psych class, so she thinks she's really cool when she says things like, ?You need therapy.'" Her mother has a rare, slow-growing cancer and has already gone through surgery for it. So as if the big "C" and Izzy's "bionic boobs" (her words) are not enough, she still has to deal with school. She is working to finish her art portfolio, hoping it will be "kick-butt" enough to allow her to get a prestigious scholarship to study art in Italy next summer. As a time-steward, Izzy is far from successful. She is a hypochondriac, so she spends time she does not have looking up imagined symptoms on her computer. Adding to her worry, an old friend is beginning to get chummy again, and Izzy is suspicious of her motives. Have things finally taken a turn for the better when the hottest boy around, Blake Hangry, notices her? After an embarrassing photo of Izzy goes viral, her sense of betrayal is overwhelming. Is this wretched school year worth salvaging? If so, what roles will Izzy's friend Jenna and her "goofy-charming" brother Marcus play? Young adult readers may find Izzy's stream-of-conscience, inner dialogue hilarious. But her thoughts are often so erratic that readers may have to eat their Wheaties just to keep up. Reviewer: Judy Crowder
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Michigan teen Izzy has a lot going on: the deadline for her art portfolio is looming, her best friend has stopped talking to her, her breasts are drawing unwanted attention, her crush might (or might not) be interested in her, she can't stop her hypochondriac ways-and, oh yeah, her mom's cancer might not be in remission after all. It's no wonder she's not sure if she can keep it together. Raf's debut is a mix of true-to-life and the unbelievable. With so much happening for Izzy, the story feels crowded, which lessens the impact of her real crises and makes the resolution feel a little underdeveloped, especially the lack of consequences for a pack of sexting students. Every adult in the book condemns even a hint of teenage sexuality-even something as mild as wearing scoop-neck tops. Raf's dialogue is unusually halting and full of ellipses, which mirrors real-life conversations but makes exchanges between the characters drag. While the plot is predictable (Izzy and her mother eventually come to understand each other better, the popular boy who shows a sudden interest is really operating under a dare, another love interest is hiding in plain sight), Izzy's self-deprecating humor and wry observations bring fresh air to tired tropes. Raf's background in comedy serves her well and gives her protagonist an authenticity that will make readers feel invested in her story. A fairly standard contribution to the genre, but a solid one.—Gretchen Kolderup, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
A teenage hypochondriac with large breasts learns to deal with life's pressure and find self-acceptance in this realistic debut. Izzy is running out of time to complete her art portfolio, her ever-expanding chest is the brunt of ogling and inappropriate jokes, and her mother's rare stomach cancer has probably returned. Naturally, the high school sophomore assumes that her body's idiosyncrasies must be a sign of a developing disease. There's still some hope for Izzy when popular basketball player Blake shows an interest in her. His affection is a ruse for a hazing prank, however, and when a cellphone photo of Izzy's bare breast goes viral, she becomes known as "Boobgirl" around school. Her internal questioning of the incident exemplifies what many teenage girls feel about sexual expectations and misguided culpability in sexual assaults. What could be tragic events for Izzy are tempered by her self-deprecating humor, plenty of female support and a chance for real romance. While some readers may be angered over the basketball players' complete escape from accountability and prosecution, the focus of Izzy's story is on female solidarity, particularly for women to stop being judgmental of one another. And Izzy does get her own justice in the end. A female Woody Allen for the teenage set. (Fiction. 13 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142422649
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 5/1/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 307,478
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Mindy Raf ( www.mindyraf.com) is a writer, comedienne, and musician based in Brooklyn, New York. She has written for CollegeHumor, VH1, TNT, The Daily Comedy Network, and was a contributor to the "My Parents Were Awesome" anthology. She has been invited to perform at the Women in Comedy Festival, SketchFestNYC, and the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, where she was named a "stellar surprise" by The Portland Mercury.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    This book deserve a 5 star rating, why? The author managed to ge

    This book deserve a 5 star rating, why? The author managed to get me all riled up that's why!
    This story revisited such antics one had seen or experience during those teen years. Either good or bad experiences it was, "Ugh!" Idiots galore, why they exist, who knows? Poor Izzy, she was a mixed of frazzle hypochondriac emotions. I felt she needed a hug then she goes and do something to make you want to, "love tap her upside her head" (sorry no violence here), "Hey Wake Up Izzy!" or "Don't do it!" or "What just happened?"
    Her body, let's talk chest size enlarges, now she is self conscious about it and those idiot boys in her school just alleviated her downward spiraling self esteem to a level of zero. Her mother dealing with cancer, you would think will help her daughter Izzy with her self esteem, but no:( Now there's an attempt of a cover up by the girls in her school either tell the school authorities who the victim of a viral picture that is rampantly exposed on the internet highway or else no school dance. The culprit who took the picture made a bet with those idiot boys in Izzy's school and well you get the jest of things. Why people do the things they do to gain notoriety? Don't know, it's still happening. There's more to this book and I enjoyed every word. This book is well written and easy to follow, the flow of the story was exceptional and like I said, the author wrote this story so well I got all riled up reading it. So with that I gave a 5-star rating. Won this book on Goodreads, First Read Giveaway. Thank you, Darlene Cruz

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  • Posted April 19, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Symptoms of My Insanity is a laugh out loud novel with a gir

    The Symptoms of My Insanity is a laugh out loud novel with a girl who is a hypochondriac. If you don't know what that is here is the definition: 
    A Hypochondriac is someone with an excessive preoccupation with and worry about one's health. 
    Basically Izzy is a girl who is so obsessive about her health that it preoccupies all her time and everything she does. This is mainly because her mother actually suffers from a rare illness and it seems like the only way she is able to cope with it is by submerging herself in medical forums and searching up every tiny and even imaginative symptom she thinks she has. I found that to be quite funny. One time she would be talking to the guy she likes sitting on a sofa but she would also be thinking of how dirty that pillow is and maybe she shouldn't lean too far back because she might contract a rare fungus that would make her drop dead or something. I really enjoyed these scenes. However I didn't enjoy the whole romantic plot in this novel. It felt a bit too predictable and forced at times. This is a book where I feel that the omission of the romance actually benefits the novel. 
    I did enjoy some of the characters in The Symptoms of My Insanity, specifically Izzy's mom's Yiddish talk as well as Pam, who is Izzy's mom's best friend. I loved how caring Pam was and wished I got to see more of her. Izzy's best friend was a bit annoying at times, especially when she kept on piling work on Izzy even though she knows she's already preoccupied with her mother's sickness as well as getting ready to complete her art portfolio that is due. There is also Marcus, who is Jenna's brother and potential love interest. He was very charming in a goofy kind of way. At times I also didn't like Izzy's monologues. 
    I have to say that The Symptoms of My Insanity was a bit too long for such a plot and I hoped some parts were omitted. All in all it was enjoyable, especially the humorous parts of the novel. It was also heartwarming, especially the hospital scenes between Izzy, her sister, and her mom. I did have some issues with it, but it was a great contemporary novel.

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  • Posted April 18, 2013

    A Debut Full of Wit and Laugh-Out-Loud Moments Ok from page one,

    A Debut Full of Wit and Laugh-Out-Loud Moments
    Ok from page one, I was laughing out loud. In fact, I was laughing so hard that I had to read the first couple of pages to my mom, who was also began laughing out loud. Possibly, many people wouldn't enjoy the book half as much as I do *I have seen a lot of 3-Star reviews*. Still, I found the book to be one of the funniest books I have read so far this year.

    Izzy is a sorta-hypochondriac, not that she recognizes it. She is constantly worrying about what is wrong with her. She is probably trying to avoid the fact that her mother has a rare form of cancer. Plus she is running out of time to create a kick-butt art portfolio. Her best friend really wants a huge chunk of her free time for the school musical. And as always, there is a boy, though all may not be what it seems.

    Maybe I am just a fan of snarky humor. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed the book as much as I did. I understand what it means to be clueless. I got Izzy. I really understood her crazy which is probably why I loved the book. Now granted, I'm not a hypochondriac. I probably don't worry enough about what's wrong with me. Still, when I've had people I loved get really sick, I wanted to do anything to make them better. And I definitely wasn't always able to see things right in front of my face during high school. Izzy may be quite the naive character, but it works.

    I will say that I kind of knew where some things were going, and it was like watching an upcoming train wreck. I wanted to scream at Izzy, but still I loved her. A lot of girls will understand what it's like to be Izzy when it comes to her new-found love life. And so many of us can relate to the high school issues she faces. The book is a bit overwhelming because Izzy is facing so much. I can understand who it may be too much for some people, but I just rolled with it. The Symptoms of My Insanity is full of laugh-out-loud moments, clever wit, and relatable characters that are easy to love.

    I sincerely recommend this book to any book lover who really enjoys contemporary and snarky humor and can handle the book drama. It's a pretty fabulous read!

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