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This is How I Find Her

This is How I Find Her

3.0 2
by Sara Polsky

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Sixteen-year-old Sophie has always had to look out for her bipolar mother, but when her mother is hospitalized, Sophie realizes she needs to live her own life.


Sixteen-year-old Sophie has always had to look out for her bipolar mother, but when her mother is hospitalized, Sophie realizes she needs to live her own life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This quiet novel provides honest insight about the conflicting emotions felt by families struggling with bipolar disorder. Sophie's inner journey from resignation to hopefulness is authentically portrayed and will provide great comfort to any teen contending with a parent's affliction. Perceptive and sincere." Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2013

"A believable story that explores the weight of guilt and the pressures people place on themselves." Publishers Weekly, August 12, 2013

Publishers Weekly
Polsky’s first novel examines the damaging fallout of a mother’s struggle with mental illness. Sophie Canon’s mother has bipolar disorder, and for the past five years Sophie has been responsible for maintaining their emotional and physical health, as well as financial stability. After Sophie’s mother attempts suicide, the high school junior temporarily moves in with her rather reserved aunt, uncle, and cousin, Leila, who was once Sophie’s best friend. Polsky seamlessly intertwines Sophie’s memories—of the high and low points of life with her mother, close friendships that went awry, and her mother’s moments of artistic inspiration—with her current situation, for which Sophie entirely blames herself (“I should have known she wasn’t taking her medication.... I should have found that other bottle of pills before she had the chance to use it”). The author immerses readers in Sophie’s life as she faces the difficult question of whether to allow her mother (or anyone) back into her life. A believable story that explores the weight of guilt and the pressures people place on themselves. Ages 13–up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary + Media. (Sept.)
VOYA - Rachel Wadham
High school junior Sophie has been left alone to care for her mentally ill mother, until the day she tries to commit suicide. With her mother in the hospital, Sophie finds herself living with her estranged aunt, uncle, and cousin. Struggling to keep herself on track so she and her mother can return home, Sophie keeps everyone at a distance. But as the days pass, Sophie begins to come out of her shell, opening up to her cousin, reconnecting with a boy she once loved, and finding a new friend. Learning secrets her aunt and cousin have been keeping allows Sophie to realize she needs to ask for help so she can care for her mother—and herself. Sensitive and perceptive, Polsky's debut novel portrays a teen in crisis with a plot that moves convincingly though the emotional hurdles of the main character. With an overall tone of quiet reflection, Sophie's voice is authentic, and her struggles are so delicately told that readers will connect with her, turning pages to find out how she completes her emotional journey. Subtle symbols of abandoned houses and artistic creation, flashbacks to previous experiences, and complex minor characters bring a unique depth to this stylistically simple story. While the reasoning behind her aunt abandoning Sophie to care for her mother alone pushes credibility, the emotional impact of the story overall rings true. Fans of problem novels, especially female readers, will find Sophie's story both empowering and energizing. Reviewer: Rachel Wadham
Children's Literature - Sandra Eichelberger
Sophie has singlehandedly cared for her mentally ill mother for the past five years. When she was eleven, her cousin’s family abandoned them both. Suddenly, they were on their own and with Sophie taking care of her bipolar parent, life became demanding and taxing. Each day, Sophie makes sure her mom takes her meds, cooks for them, and generally manages the household. It is a lot of responsibility for a young girl. But when Amy attempts suicide and ends up in the hospital, Sophie must turn to her only remaining family, her aunt. Little by little, living with her aunt, uncle and cousin, Sophie comes to see that she might actually be able to have friends now that she is not tending to her mother all the time. But as her mother’s condition stabilizes, the possibility of her return looms. Sophie is sent into a tailspin at the thought of her life reverting to what it was. Polsky has perfectly captured a teen caught in a moral dilemma. How much does Sophie need to sacrifice to keep her mother safe? What about her own life? Is she entitled to have friends and a social life? The internal struggle is poignant and heartbreaking. Polsky writes with flair, and her characters are rich and nicely drawn. While the resolution may seem a bit too convenient, the road to the resolution is not short or easy. Polsky brings mental illness to the forefront, making us all realize how hard an illness it is to manage and live with. She writes of family commitment with a gentle brush and will win over the hearts of readers. Reviewer: Sandra Eichelberger AGERANGE: Ages 12 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Sixteen-year-old Sophie is artistic, smart, and easygoing-a perfect daughter in an imperfect home. When she comes home from school to find her mother unconscious and sprawled out in their shared bedroom, a near-empty bottle of pills spilled nearby, Sophie's well-orchestrated world tips as she calls 911 and her difficult road to admission, acceptance, and looking for help begins. Sophie has been caring for Amy, who battles bipolar disorder, since she was 11. Nobody, not even Amy's sister, Aunt Cynthia, speaks about Amy's illness. Now as Amy recovers in the hospital, Sophie temporarily moves in with her aunt, uncle, and teenage cousin. She is shaken from the guilt of being unable to make Amy take her prescribed medication and the shame of what happens when she doesn't. Sophie is also devastated by her mother's actions. She wants to know "how my mother could do this knowing I would be the one to find her…or whether she thought of me at all." Sophie returns to school feigning an interest in friends and projects while constantly unsettled with worry, and readers see her struggle to adapt, adjust, and cope with her conflicted feelings, including, "the part of my life that's been better since my mother left." Sophie's voice is unflinchingly honest and convincing. Amy is the catalyst but the story is all Sophie's. She is astute and courageous, daring to effect a satisfying and compassionate resolution. A difficult topic made approachable by well-crafted writing.—Alison Follos, formerly at North Country School, Lake Placid, NY
Kirkus Reviews
A teenage girl attempts to separate her life from that of her bipolar mother in this introspective debut. "On the fourth day of junior year, sometime between the second bell…and the time I got home from school, my mother tried to kill herself." Sophie is left adrift after her mother is rushed to the hospital for treatment to medically regulate the bipolar disorder that caused her suicide attempt. Sophie's constant attention to her single mother's moods and medication has meant sacrificing friends and a social life, and now she feels completely alone. She withdraws even further when she is forced to live with her estranged aunt, uncle and cousin. But soon she begins making tenuous connections at school and with her new family, and she finds she is secretly relieved not to be just her mother's caregiver. She enjoys having the freedom to help out at her uncle's architectural firm after school or go on a random drive with her new friend, Natalie. But will she be able to ask for the help she needs when her mother finally comes home? Or will her feelings of guilt and shame keep her from reaching out? This quiet novel provides honest insight about the conflicting emotions felt by families struggling with bipolar disorder. Sophie's inner journey from resignation to hopefulness is authentically portrayed and will provide great comfort to any teen contending with a parent's affliction. Perceptive and sincere. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Sara Polsky works as a journalist and has published poetry and short fiction in magazines like Strange Horizons and Beyond the Wainscot. She lives in New York City. This is her first book. Her website is www.sarapolsky.com.

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This is How I Find Her 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Disquietus More than 1 year ago
My actual rating of this book is probably around a 3.5. When it comes to this book I’ve got some seriously mixed feelings. Having grown up with both a bipolar father & mother, I was looking for, and expecting, a story that I could relate to that would reach me on an emotional level. Unfortunately that was not the case for me. While I could feel sympathy for Sophie, the book failed to pull any emotion out of me until about 2/3 of the way through the story. The writing itself was average. It wasn’t bad but it was a little too simplistic for my tastes at times. The bare bones conciseness may have been intended to show how numb, bleak and lonely Sophie’s life is but instead it caused the characters to fall flat for me, especially Sophie.  While I definitely sympathized with her, I found her lack of emotion-whether it be anger, grief, joy, really any emotion, to be unbelievable and unrelatable. While I could understand Sophie’s initial numbness being a result of her shock and possibly some PTSD, I really felt as if she took too long to start breaking down those walls and showing real emotion which in turn made it impossible fore me to feel any emotion for her. While I do think that the growth she went through in this book after moving in with her Aunt Cynthia was well done, by the time she started standing up for herself and not blaming herself for the situation with her mother it was too little too late. The relationship in the book that really worked for me, and that I could relate to was the one between Sophie and her cousin Leila. The pain of losing your best friend because your caught between your parents, growing apart because your interests no longer merge and all of those difficult things that happen when you’re growing up, especially when your family essentially isolates you. While I didn’t love the character of Leila, I did love the way the author portrayed her relationship with Sophie and found their re-connection to be very organic. I do feel as if the author did represent bipolar disorder in an honest way. The writing style and lack of character development just didn’t work for me and made it impossible for me to emotionally connect with the characters and story. I received my copy of This Is How I Find Her as an eARC free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
EpicFehlReader More than 1 year ago
3.5 Stars Though this story deals with heavy themes such as suicide and depression, I found that it didn't leave me with an oppressive feeling as similar books have in the past. Instead I found this novel to be more quiet and thoughtful. It can be sad and even heartbreaking, in parts, the way it looks at how trauma can influence or change one's way of looking at the world, but there is also an underlying sense of hope to the whole thing. I could relate to Sophie's struggles with that feeling of life getting in the way of life sometimes -- when something stressful or traumatic that you feel requires all your attention is going on, yet you still have to go to school or work and act like everything is a-okay even though there's a damn crisis going on out there people! Sophie's story also illustrates the value of a person being able to fearlessly communicate their wants and needs and how, in times of conflict, it's only natural to get nostalgic for what we perceive as simpler past times (when in reality those rosy-hued days more than likely had their share of conflict then too). While I didn't always agree with some of the statements made in this novel -- like Uncle John saying "people wouldn't ask if they didn't really want to know", sorry I call BS, in the real world, people ask stuff merely out of politeness, and then tune out your response, all the time! -- I really enjoy this story for the food for thought it provides the reader on some tough topics that need more open and honest discussion. I found Polsky's novel to be an honest look at depression through the eyes of a teen without it being too heavy-handed, to the point where it might trigger MY depression!