Book Review of A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel

Hannah suddenly finds herself institutionalized and confined to a small hospital room. She knows there must be some mistake. She’d never hurt her best friend and dorm roommate Agnes. But Agnes is in a coma and Agnes’s parents are blaming Hannah. Hannah passes time by counting the steps inside her tiny room, meeting with her doctor, and waiting until she’s vindicated and finally released so she can begin her high school senior year.

This was a library read for me. It was also an odd book. Since it takes place mainly within the walls of the institution, and everything is from Hannah’s POV, it had a tendency to be redundant and repetitive. So much so that I almost gave up after just a few pages. Too much monotony and it’s time for me to call it quits. However, I stuck with it, because I thought it was an important topic.

Yes, mental illness is indeed an important topic, but this book didn’t exactly give readers an accurate portrayal. In fact, the author does acknowledge this at the end of the book. I’m not sure that this is a good thing. Using creative license (even in a fiction book) when writing about mental illness is unfair to readers… particularly when the book is geared toward young adults.

I didn’t hate A Danger to Herself and Others, however. I did finish it because I really did become interested enough in Hannah’s story and I wanted to see where the author went with it. That’s always a good thing for me as a book reviewer: Was it compelling enough for me to finish it? Yes, I’d have to say that it was. The ending is somewhat open, but honestly where does one go with an unpredictable, unreliable narrator like Hannah?

I see that this book has already garnered over 40 Amazon reviews in the short time since its publication. However, not one of them is a verified review, which indicates that there’s been a huge ARC/free-book-for-review campaign, which is fine, but not always an accurate indication of how good a book really is. Sorry, that’s just the way it is when consumers receive a product free in exchange for review.

I definitely had mixed feelings about this one. In the end I gave it three stars for being compelling enough to make me finish.


3 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton