Reviews for Words on Bathroom Walls, by Julia Walton

sarahscoffeecup's review

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5.0

Read this review and others at sarahthebooknerd.home.blog!

Words on Bathroom Walls is a collection of journal entries Adam writes to his therapist. Adam is schizophrenic and has been accepted into an experimental drug trial. Adam transfers to a new school, Catholic school specifically, and has been gifted the ability to stay a normal teen. Nobody knows about his condition and he tries to have a normal life. His hallucinations, or imaginary friends, are kept at bay because of the drug. This allows him to fall in love and try to live a life that he's always wanted.

Of course, all good stories have problems. There are kinks in the plan and major plot twists happen. Yes, the plotting was stellar. Yes, the characterization was on point. Yes, the settings were extremely well developed. The themes were clear and impactful. However, Walton created a genuine masterpiece that goes beyond elements of literature.

I write notes on post-its as I read, figuring out what I want to say in my review. Usually, I fill out one post-it note with half-assed phrases to remind myself of what I want to say--two if the book is really good (or really bad). I filled out five post-its while going through this book, and judging by the 5-star review it wasn't because it was bad.

I also wanted to mention that I have this other thing I do when I read: I look at the last page. I know, I know--Bad Sarah! I like to peek at the last few sentences of a novel before I read it so I can figure out how it fits in, like a puzzle piece. The words that stuck out to me in on the last page were "Jesus Loves You. Don't Be a Homo." I had to laugh.

With that being said, this book is set in a Catholic K-12 school. This book also has multiple sex scenes... some of which are in said school. Walton also uses humor to her advantage throughout this book, which may be offensive to Catholics. FYI.

Let's start with the themes. As mentioned before, they were well thought out and excellently put together. I learned a lot about schizophrenia. I thought this book was about general awareness, but it's not. It's about showing people that schizophrenics aren't always violent and that there's nothing to be afraid of. There's a scene in here that compares schizophrenia to cancer, which is enlightening.

I loved the similes (comparison of two things using like or as) in this book. They're hilarious and accurate. Many authors use cliched similes -- not Julia Walton. Hers are original and will have you laughing out loud in the middle of a silent library... no, just me?

Another thing I loved about this book is the Harry Potter references. Not from the movies, but from the books! I was delighted when I read the first HP reference on page 8. Yes, the book starts with a reference and the book ends with a reference... in the last chapter Adam quotes Dumbledore. This is a quote that was bouncing in the back of my head throughout the entire book. My father has recited this quote to me from time to time and it sticks: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" AH! When I read that line, I started to cry because I desperately wanted Adam to use that quote to find some peace.

So, I mentioned that I love this book, right? There are a few things that I'm not a huge fan of. These are personal opinions, so I didn't let them affect the five star rating, but they're worth mentioning.

I don't like the title. I don't think it's fitting. I understand, vaguely, why "Words on Bathroom Walls" is its title, but it's not powerful enough to defend it. It also kind of bugs me that there are multiple sex scenes that are explained in... not like GoT graphic, but enough detail to picture everything, but she won't use many curse words. She drops a few here and there, but when someone curses in an angry fashion, they become "choice" words or the like.

So, anyway, amazing book. Love it to death. I would highly recommend this book to those whom are not easily offended by religious jokes and sexual content. Great read that offers a lot of insight and knowledge on a mental illness that often incites fear.

Great job Julia!

tiagonnoce's review against another edition

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emotional informative medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.0

reyastray's review

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4.5

"Cancer Kid has the Make-A-Wish Foundation because Cancer Kid will eventually die, and that's sad. Schizophrenia Kid will also eventually die, but before he does, he will be overmedicated with a plethora of drugs, he will alienate everyone he's ever really cared about, and he will most likely wind up on the street, living with a cat that will eat him when he dies. That is also sad, but nobody gives him a wish, because he isn't actively dying. It is abundantly clear that we only care about sick people who are dying tragic, time-sensitive deaths."

From the moment I saw this book on the library shelf, I knew I wanted to read it. It seemed so candid and honest, and I crave that. When reading it, I was pleasantly surprised, because it tackled so many real issues as well as supplying the reader with characters who seemed so real and had quirky, lovable relationships. I loved every part of this book. It did reveal harsh truths at some points, but I wouldn't have expected any differently.

I also find myself with an urge to quote many, many parts of this book, but I'd probably just end up rewriting the entire book here and that wouldn't be helpful for anyone. There were just so many scenes that I adored and wanted to read over and over again.

In this day and age, I feel like a lot of people don't know what schizophrenia is, or the fact that people who have it aren't always violent or dangerous. In fact, they barely ever are. While reading this book, I was more worried about the other characters doing harm to the main character than him accidentally hurting anyone else. Anyway, I feel like everyone should read this book. I loved it so much.

rachelsheplak's review against another edition

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emotional relaxing fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

miriamreads's review

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emotional informative inspiring lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

I adored this book. This book discusses the trials and tribulations of being a teen especially one with schizophrenia. I never felt like the book idolized or demonized mental illness and instead took a healthy stance regarding it. I absolutely loved Adam, he was so self aware and relatable it was fantastic. All around a very enjoyable book. 

jo_scribbles's review

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3.0

Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.

Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton sounded like such a great book, but I found I was disappointed.

Adam refuses to talk to his therapist, as he doesn't think therapy will help - it's not going to cure him, not going to make him better, so why bother? So instead, his therapist gets him to write instead; he asks him questions during therapy sessions, and Adam answers them and tells him what's happening in his life later, on a notepad. And that is how the story is told, by Adam writing to his therapist. I've read books previously where the whole book was the main character writing to someone, but Words on Bathroom Walls is more realistic in that Adam doesn't write as if the things are happening as he writes them. Which means there is very, very little dialogue, and mostly just stream of consciousness on Adam's part. And I just really didn't like it.

Everything we read is told to us by Adam, we don't actually see any of it. So we don't see relationships develop, we don't really get to know the other characters, we're just told about them, told about the things that happened, and told how Adam is feeling and what he's thinking. And to be honest, not much really happens. He's taking this new medication, which means he now is now able to tell that his visions and the voices he hears aren't really real, which makes it easier to ignore them when they tell him to do things. So, they're just there, while he goes about his normal teenage life where nothing all that interesting happens. He meets a girl, a relationship starts. He makes a friend. He's bullied. But, again, we're all told about it rather than getting to see it. There's a detachment. And I didn't like it, I found it really difficult to connect with the story.

And the story was also really predictable. As we're told in the blurb, the drug works for a while, until it doesn't, and then things start to go wrong. And you can tell what will happen, and you know where things will go after the events. It was just so predictable. That, along with storytelling that isn't to my taste, I just didn't really enjoy the book.

I must say that I think Adam's Schizophrenia was dealt with well - being said who has no experience of Schizophrenia. I just felt like I understood Adam and how he was feeling. What it was like to see and hear things nobody else could see or hear. It was emotional, especially when the class is talking about a Schizophrenic guy who went into a school and shot teachers and kids, and someone shouts out 'Why didn't he just kill himself?' At those times, it was just heartbreaking to read Adam really seeing what people think of people like him, and he can do nothing about it, because he doesn't want anyone to know, but still it hurts, and makes him angry. No-one knows what it's like to be him, and no-one knows what it's like to lose control.

But overall, this book just wasn't for me. I much preferred Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, thought that is about a girl with Paranoid Schizophrenia, so it's slightly different. This wasn't the right fit for me, but it might be for you, so do read a few other reviews before deciding whether or not you want to read Words on Bathroom Walls.

Thank you to Random House Books for Young Readers via NetGalley for the eProof.

maryam162424's review

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3.0

*3.5 stars for me*

I really wanted to give this a 4 stars (love it) but I think it took a while for me to get into it.

Nevertheless, this was a really well written novel about mental illness and, for the most part, I liked Adam’s voice. His POV on how the world views his illness was very accurate and mimics what I’ve seen a lot of individuals think unfortunately.

I really liked how the author showed that having a support system is critical - as you would with any other illness/disease. You need help from others to improve your state, which is something I think this novel did a really good job of.

Overall, a good read!!

gabriela23's review

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5.0

Wow, brilliant. I think anyone should give this book a try, regardless of the genre they usually read. Great characters. Heartwarming. 5/5⭐

_andbookdragons's review against another edition

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4.5

Number of pages: 304

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 4.5

There’s something about reading mental illness books when you have a mental illness that’s strangely comforting. For me, it’s like snuggling up in a warm blanket. I don’t even have schizophrenia like Adam does. Depression is a completely different mental illness, but there just always seems to be something for me to relate to with characters with mental illnesses.

Words on Bathroom Walls is told in a unique format; it’s told in journal entries written by Adam to his therapist. Despite this meaning Adam could easily be an unreliable narrator, the account appears to be fairly unchanged, since Adam doesn’t always appear in the best light.

Adam as a character was well done. He has the same self-aware, dry humour that I have and love, and he has so many human moments. Sometimes he comes off as a jerk, and sometimes he comes off as a genuinely caring character. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the portrayal of Adam’s schizophrenia, but from what I could tell it seemed well researched.

Since everything is told through journal entries that focus heavily on Adam, the side characters aren’t as present or well developed as they normally would be. Because of the format, this wasn’t as big of a deal it would have been if Words on Bathroom Walls had been written differently.

Like many other mental illness books I’ve read, Words on Bathroom Walls perfectly balances humour and the hardship that comes with living with a mental illness. It has you laughing out loud one moment, and near tears the next.

With all the good, there is some bad. I was really bothered by how Adam often referred to himself as crazy. I really don’t like applying the term ‘crazy’ to anyone, but I especially don’t like applying it to people with mental illnesses. I refer to my brain as “stupid” often as way of dealing with my depression, but for me, crazy is different. I’m especially bothered since Words on Bathroom Walls does not appear to be own voices (please don’t quote me on this). I would love to know how others feel about this.

Overall, Words on Bathroom Walls was a really solid and enjoyable read with a few minor issues, earning it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.

inkdrinkerpdx's review against another edition

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5.0

I saw this was being made into a movie so I moved it up on the TBR. I’m sad it took me this long to get to it because it was really interesting topic to talk about especially in YA.

I haven’t read a lot of books where the the main character is diagnosed with Schizophrenia, so I don’t have anything to compare. I thought it was written well and is done so in journal entries. I felt for Adam a lot and wanted more of him and his family/friend but I also really enjoyed how we were just in Adams head.