Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date: 9/1/07
Blurb (GR): "Where are they taking me?"
"It's for your own good, Brit," Dad said.
I was shoved into a small, stuffy room, and the door was locked behind me. I waited for my dad to realize he'd made a terrible mistake and come get me.
But he didn't.
For sixteen-year-old Brit Hemphill, it's hard to know who she can trust. Convinced she's out of control, her father has sentenced her to Red Rock: a center for supposedly rebellious teens, where the therapy consists of name-calling and the girls who get privileges are the ones who rat out their peers.
But then Brit meets V, Bebe, Martha, and Cassie—four girls who keep her from going over the edge. Together, they'll hold on to their sanity and their sisterhood despite the bleak Red Rock reality.
Sometimes I am just not excited to read a book. (What up, book club?) I knew of Gayle Forman from her book If I Stay, which I wrote a gushing review of a few months back. A few of us decided to read this lesser-known work of hers together this week. I was excited to read the book because of the author and because I was reading it with friends…but not so excited about the subject matter. I assumed that this was rather well-worn territory, what with Girl Interrupted and all. Also, I wasn’t in the mood for a depressing book. Sisters in Sanity surprised me in a good way, and I definitely recommend it to those who are interested in YA books related to mental health issues/treatment.
Brit Hemphill lives with her father and her stepmonster. Her mother isn’t in the picture and I don’t want to spoil where she is so I’ll leave it at that. Her parents owned a coffeehouse in Portland during her formative years so she rubbed elbows with all sorts of famous musicians and took up the guitar, teaching herself how to play for the most part. Because of her mother’s absence and her father’s relationship (and subsequent child), Brit spends as much time out of the house as possible, mostly playing and touring with her band. When her father and stepmother make her go on a family vacation to the Grand Canyon, Brit is angry she’ll miss a gig but obliges. Only she isn’t going to the Grand Canyon—her dad is dropping her off at a juvenile rehabilitation center because she is “out of control.”
Anger. That’s the emotion I felt for most of the book, not sadness. I was livid with Brit’s father. Absolutely wanted (and still want) to punch that man in the face. How could he do that to his child?
I was expecting the novel to follow the Girl, Interrupted storyline and, for the most part, it did. I was pleasantly surprised, however, at the supporting cast of characters (who were far more balanced than those with Susanna Kaysen) and the relationship between Brit and Jed, her bandmate. His letters and the description of the time they spent together were both lovely and I loved the story behind the firefly references.
The writing flowed really well and all three of us that read it finished it in a day. (as far as I know) I did feel that the ending wrapped things up just a bit too perfectly, then again I am a fan of leaving things hanging—well, if it is realistic.