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Words on Bathroom Walls

Review

Words on Bathroom Walls

Julia Walton’s debut novel, WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS, is a realistic fiction novel centered around the life of Adam, a high school teen with schizophrenia. He hears voices that aren’t actually there, and sees people no one else can see: Rebecca, his silent and stunning companion; Jason, the polite guy who walks around naked; and two taunting British men, Rupert and Basil. After an outburst at his previous school, Adam is ready to start fresh at a new Catholic private school, Saint Agatha’s. With his new school comes ToZaPrex, an experimental drug to help him control his hallucinations. At first, everything is going well. Adam makes a reluctant friendship with Dwight, his chatty lab partner, and meets Maya, an intelligent and driven girl who makes him want to be just a normal boy. Then the drugs begin to fail. Hallucinations start appearing more often, and his sense of what’s real begins to slip. Determined to be the perfect boy for Maya, Adam will do anything to hide who he is, no matter the damage it will cause.

"Combining a mix of darkness, humor and romance is difficult to master, but Walton does it excellently....WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS is a must-read, and I can’t wait to see what Julia Walton delivers in her next book.

WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS presented a realistic portrayal of the struggle of mental illness, while providing the entrancing story of Adam’s life. The novel is written through Adam’s journal entries to his therapist, which gives the book a unique and personal feel that I loved. This style, as well as several other aspects of the book, allowed Adam’s illness and life to contain a sense of trueness that is usually romanticized and lost in contemporary fiction. Besides that, the demonstration of how Adam’s family and friends responded to his illness is as heartbreaking as it is real, because many people don’t treat mental illness with the respect and understanding that it warrants.

Despite the slight predictability, I found the plot to be enjoyable and entertaining, allowing me to fly through the novel. Adam’s hilarious side comments and interactions with characters added a comedic spin on what could have been an entirely serious novel. In addition, his love of cooking and protectiveness of his family made Adam an easy character to love. Instead of pretending his life is fine, he responds to his situation with the appropriate angst and struggle, while still attempting to retain a normal life. This refreshing response to schizophrenia or any mental illness is an important element that Walton succeeds at immensely.

Combining a mix of darkness, humor and romance is difficult to master, but Walton does it excellently. Maya and Adam are adorable and perfect, but Adam’s secret introduces the underlying darkness that allowed their relationship to stand out. Also, developing on Maya’s life gives the background to her actions that is often lost in YA novels. The depth of her character made her and Adam seem even more perfect for each other, without seeming too impractical.

I would recommend this novel to fans of MORE HAPPY THAN NOT, or THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B, as they contain similar dynamics, or anyone who is looking for a contemporary novel pertaining to mental illness. WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS is a must-read, and I can’t wait to see what Julia Walton delivers in her next book.

Reviewed by Jessica K., Teen Board Member on July 24, 2017

Words on Bathroom Walls
by Julia Walton