Highly Illogical Behaviour

John Corey Whaley

Highly Illogical Behaviour
Faber & Faber
United Kingdom
24 August 2016

Highly Illogical Behaviour

John Corey Whaley

Sixteen year old Solomon has agoraphobia. He hasn’t left his house in three years, which is fine by him. At home, he is the master of his own kingdom - even if his kingdom doesn’t extend outside of the house.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to go to a top tier psychiatry program. She’ll do anything to get in. When Lisa finds out about Solomon’s solitary existence, she comes up with a plan sure to net her a scholarship: befriend Solomon. Treat his condition. And write a paper on her findings.

To earn Solomon’s trust, Lisa begins letting him into her life, introducing him to her boyfriend Clark, and telling him her secrets. Soon, Solomon begins to open up and expand his universe. But all three teens have grown uncomfortably close, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse as well.


When I started reading this, I was instantly worried that this was going to be a ‘girl befriends troubled boy, they fall in love and she fixes him’ sort of book. Thankfully, it was not at all. Lisa is determined to get into the (second) best psychiatry course in the country and to get the scholarship she needs, she has to write the best possible essay about her own experience with mental illness. This is where Solomon factors into her grand plan. After a massive and very public panic attack three years ago, Solomon fell off the grid and now never leaves his house. Lisa figures that if she can ‘fix’ him, she’s guaranteed the scholarship.

This novel is delightful in so many ways, not least because it very quickly becomes clear that nothing will ‘fix’ Solomon, but he takes his own steps to face his fears. The parents of the various teenagers aren’t perfect, but they’re loving and interested in the lives of the teenagers. There’s no trite romance, and instead the book is about the intense and frequently beautifully realistic friendship between Solomon, Lisa and Lisa’s boyfriend, Clark. The depiction of Solomon’s agoraphobia is fully realised, and all of the characters are flawed but lovable. This is also a joy-filled book. It’s very funny, and Solomon and Clark have a slightly odd but humorous obsession with Star Trek: The Next Generation, so it tends towards Star Trek-based metaphors that somehow manage to be endearing rather than flat-out odd. They all have very relatable teen obsessions and passions, and Lisa’s fraught relationship with her long-term best friend, Janis, is fairly standard with regard to angsty high-school friendships. I raced through this book and I really enjoyed every minute of it.

Highly recommended.

Isobel Moore

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