Voted MOST ANTICIPATED NOVEL of 2019 by both Bustle and Nylon
This portrait of a young teenager's fight toward understanding and recovering from mental illness is shockingly honest, funny, and heartfelt.
A highly anticipated debut—from a writer hailed as "a combination of Denis Johnson and Joan Didion" (Dazed)—brilliantly captures the intimate triumph of a girl's struggle to become the woman s
Ambitious, talented fourteen-year-old honors student Juliet is poised for success at her Southern California high school. However, she soon finds herself on an increasingly frightening spiral of drug use, self-harm, and mental illness that lands her in a remote therapeutic boarding school, where she must ultimately find the inner strength to survive.
|Publisher:||Melville House Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
WHY I’M SCARED OF BIRDS
I always took a shortcut through a vacant field. It had been undeveloped for years, a blank square behind the mall at the top of the hill, before you got to the stucco apartments. Once the plants in it had been green and pretty, tall grass with bushes and wildflowers. It didn’t look like that anymore. Everything had turned chalky and gray. The dead grass crinkled when I stepped on it. At the far end of the field, there was a whole flock of crows, dozens of black marks like a pox.
I expected them to fly away as I got closer, but they didn’t move. They were black, black, black all over, claws to beak, and I felt their black-bead eyes following me.
I decided to sit down in the dirt, try to get the shadows to go away by willing myself solid and impassive like a tree. But the shadows caught up with me, and there were more of them now, shifting from shapes into pieces of people. Disembodied limbs, screeching mouths, long rotted hair. Ghosts. Wanting something from me, for me to do something, as if I could break their suffering and deliver them to heaven. They were saying something but all talking at once, and I couldn’t make out what they said. The crows were still watching me. They began to caw. They were all trying to tell me something. They were all trying to tell me what to do. The sun shone through the thick clouds, a yellow blob in the sky.
My heart beat faster, faster until it was just one long thrum. The molecules around my head buzzed, the crows cackled, the shadows clung at me, and all of it was cloaked in doom. The poison in me was spreading, burning like bile in my veins, dismantling cells and becoming contagious. It would spread into my parents, into Nicole. The only way to get the evil out, to exorcise the ghosts, was to choke it. To choke myself. It was the only way. I stood up and it began pouring rain.
When I got home, I was soaked. My parents were getting ready to leave for dinner. They seemed surprised to see me, surprised that I was soaking wet. “I didn’t know it was raining,” my dad said.
A new Mexican restaurant had opened up near the gas station. “Do you want to come?” my mom asked. I told her no. “Are you OK? You look sick,” she said. I said I was fine. I was just tired, I was just cold and wet. I said I would take a hot shower. They left.
The Other Thing took over, pushing me into the bathroom. I watched my hand take out my medicine—Tegretol, Wellbutrin. The pills poured onto the counter in a neat pile. It didn’t seem like enough. I walked into the kitchen, the tiny cupboard where my mom kept the vitamins and headache medicine. There was a big bottle of Tylenol from Costco. There was a smaller bottle of Benadryl too. I set both of them down on the counter. I grabbed one of the kitchen chairs. I dragged it in front of the fridge. There was a bunch of liquor bottles on top. I grabbed the gin. I stepped down, got a tall glass. I poured the gin into it until it was full. I didn’t put the bottle back. I took the glass and the pill bottles and went into the bathroom. I poured the Tylenol and Benadryl out next to the other pills, threw all of the bottles in the trash. They looked pretty—the white of the Tylenol and Tegretol mixed with the bright pink and red of the other pills. I grabbed a handful, shoved them in my mouth, swallowed them with the gin, until it was all gone. They went down my throat so easy it was like they belonged there.
I went into my bedroom. The lights were off and the room was very dark. I lay down on the bed. My eyelids grew heavy and I closed them. Everything felt thick and dumb. I think I fell asleep. I dreamt I was tied, my hands behind my back, my feet together. Someone had lit me on fire. The flame that burned me was very white and very hot, but it didn’t hurt. I couldn’t see anything else but flames. I lost place of my body. I became the fire.
And then my dad was shaking me. I opened my eyes and the fire was gone. He was sitting on the bed, over me. It looked like there were three of him. My mother was over his shoulder. There were three of her too. Her face glistened, I think she was crying, and the tears glowed, brilliant as stars.
The next thing I knew, I was in the car. My mother was in the backseat with me. My face was against the window, the glass cool on my cheek. She kept on saying my name over and over, her hand grabbing my arm. It seemed too difficult to answer her and so I didn’t. We were on the freeway and the other car lights went by in streaks and blurs, like lines of fire.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Stunning writing, I thoroughly enjoyed Escoria's writing prose. As a reader you really get a sense of the struggles with mental illness and it spirals out of hand quick (which is a true account). I believe this is a book that should be read by everyone regardless of age, in order to better understand what young adults go through. This is a first step in better understanding one another and the struggles of mental illness. The book was beautifully collected through the highs and lows. Do yourself a favor and read this book!
Let me start off by saying, the writing was SUPERB! Juliet is a master wordsmith, if you don't believe me just read the first page and you'll see. She painted a vivid picture. The reason why I didn't give it more stars was because, it didn't keep me hooked. Yes, she knows how to weave words, there is no denying it. However, I found myself reading a page and needing to reread it multiple times because I kept losing interest. I also couldn't read for more than 30minutes at a time. Good story, great writing, but I just couldn't get into it like I'd hoped I would. I will absolutely, without a doubt, read more by Juliet. I look forward to see what else she brings to life.
I received an advanced digital copy of this book from the author, Netgalley.com and Melville House Publishing. Thanks to all for the opportunity to read and review. Juliet the Maniac is a fictionalized account of the author's journey to recovery and mental health. As intriguing as the premise was, the author is too busy glamorizing the very thing that she was trying to overcome. Her treatment is trivialized, an inconvenience to the story of drugs and unbelievable accounts of sex acts. Spontaneous, institutionalized lesbianism is thrown into just because the author realizes that she is the only one that hasn't experienced gay sex. Any suggestion of faith or belief in God is scoffed at. The story stopped so abruptly, I thought there was an error in the download, but no; suddenly Juliet is recovered and going home, here are the acknowledgements. This book will certainly do well amongst the nouveau, intersectional proto-feminist set, though there is really nothing to be gleaned from the story.
This book confused me, is this a fictional story? Or is it a memoir? Is it something in the middle? The book follows Juliet as she struggles with mental illness, drug abuse, suicide attempts and institutionalization. The road is fast and steep and she is only 14. I found this book to be choppy, which it an attribute I have come to expect from books with plot-lines rooted in mental illness. That's not a criticism, just an opinion. I found Juliets story, heart wrenching, raw and at times difficult to read. But I am happy that books like this are being written, breaking down the wall that has been built up around mental illness, a wall of embarrassment and shame. These stories aren't pretty, but they happen, and we need writers like Escoria who aren't afraid to tackle these issues.
4 Haunting Stars! “ …I truly felt like I had a broken brain. Except it wasn’t even my brain. It was a brain of a homicidal maniac. She was trying to kill me…” A story told by a 14-year-old Juliet, is a story of drug addition, mental illness, and teenage rebellion. This is an unapologetic, raw, and ruthlessly honest account of a young girl’s struggle to fight the demons of mental illness. It was a heart-wrenching, dark, and horrifying read for me, but I admired Juliet’s ability to distance herself from some truly disturbing and painful events in her journey to recovery. The writing was superb and it really allowed me to get inside of Juliet’s mind and experience with her the darkness and pain of her illness and addiction. Even though Juliet’s thoughts and actions were often unemotional and disturbing, I was still able to feel the inner turmoil her body and mind were going through. Thank you NetGalley, Melville House Publishing, and the author, Juliet Escoria, for giving me an opportunity to read this haunting and heart-wrenching book in exchange for my honest opinion.