The Definition of Us by Sarah Harris – Book Review

Title: The Definition of Us (review copy)

Author: Sarah Harris

Genre/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health, depression, anxiety, trauma, disordered eating, ADHD, anger management issues, ASD (autism spectrum disorder)

Blurb from Goodreads

NORMAL (definition)
(adj.) Conforming to a standard; regular, typical or expected
(urban) A word inapplicable to human beings
(Florence) Round, smooth and bumpy like a cobbled street 

Florence doesn’t always see things the way other people do. She feels different.

When Florence meets Jasper, Andrew and Wilf she can’t imagine they’d have much in common – with at least five mental health conditions between them, they all have very different reasons for being referred to Manor Lane Therapy Centre.

It’s only when their therapist, Howard, goes missing that they find a common purpose. Worried by his disappearance and wanting answers, the four of them decide to track him down.

As they cross the country in a ‘borrowed’ van, asking each other Ultimate Questions and facing a series of challenges along the way, they start to reveal their true selves – and Florence realises there’s more to all of them than just a diagnosis . . .

Maybe they’re not so different after all? 

My Review

Every once in a while a contemporary YA book comes along that reminds me why I love the genre so very much.

This book told the story of four teenage characters

  • Florence is our MC and is dealing with depression and anxiety especially in the aftermath of a personal traumatic experience.
  • Jasper is also dealing with anxiety and has an eating disorder… Can I give major props to the author for focusing attention on how eating disorders can manifest in ways other than what we are typically used to hearing about. I loved how Jasper’s storyline was explained.
  • Wilf has ADHD and anger management issues and is trying to be more than his family name.
  • And Andrew has ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and is just trying to understand why people don’t seem to like him.

All four are weekly patients of Manor Lane Diagnostic and Therapy Centre and one weekend. When they are told that their favourite therapist Howard will not be coming back to the centre for the foreseeable future, they take it upon themselves to go on a road trip to locate him…

This sets the scene for book filled with some pretty crazy moments but also some moments that truly feel authentic and really makes great strides at attempting to change the definition of what it means to be ‘normal‘.

A fabulously enjoyable storyline with one of my fav things…a road trip. I do love a good road trip book!

It’s a book that had everything I love about contemporary YA in it.

  • Characters that were easy to fall in love with, to empathise with.
  • Sensitive handling of mental health issues that felt both realistic and hopeful.
  • Great wit and banter.
  • Touching moments of sadness and loss.
  • A story that put the primary emphasis on friendship among the four leads with just a hint of a sweet little love story.

And all wrapped up in a beautifully flowing narrative that I spent a happy few hours getting lost in.

I really loved this little book and definitely want to read everything this author writes in future. Highly recommended to fans of contemporary young adult literature

An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Little Brown Book Group UK, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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7 thoughts on “The Definition of Us by Sarah Harris – Book Review

  1. I love Rainbow Rowell books and YA books that represent mental illness (another fav is C.G Drew’s) in a way that raises awareness for those going through a hard time. I definitely have to check this out! ❤️ great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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