by Whitney Taylor
Published on April 4, 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
This heartbreaking, humorous novel is about three teens whose lives intersect in ways they never expected.
Reggie Mason is all too familiar with "the Three Stages of Depression." She believes she’s unlocked the secret to keeping herself safe: Nobody can hurt you if you never let them in.
Reggie encounters an unexpected challenge to her misanthropy: a Twizzler-chomping, indie film-making narcissist named Snake. Snake’s presence, while reassuring, is not exactly stable—especially since his ex-girlfriend is seven months pregnant. As Reggie falls for Snake, she must decide whether it’s time to rewrite the rules that have defined her.
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I’m not sure I was the right person to read this book.
That sounds awkward, I know, considering I did read it and now I’m writing a review for it. I’ve never read a book that portrayed depression in any way like Definitions of Indefinable Things and so my view on this topic and this book is likely skewed in that regard. I want to be upfront about this as I don’t claim any knowledge on depression or other mental health topics in general.
Unfortunately this book wasn’t really working for me. For one, while I’m beginning to read contemporary stories more often and finding more I enjoy, I can’t add this to those numbers. From the first chapter, I was a bit put off by Reggie’s character and the book continues in her head for full duration. I found her voice simply unlikable and to read an entire book without a break from it was a bit too much for me. Had it not been for the singular character view throughout this book, I think I likely would have finished it sooner.
Reggie came off as pretty obnoxious more often than not. And in the way that I grew to dislike her. Regardless of the events of the book, I don’t think her constant negative attitude in the way it was portrayed was really called for nor realistic. Though I can’t speak from personal experience, I have known friends with depression and could not match this behavior with any of theirs (however, I also understand each person has their own experience).
I think that this book addresses depression in a way that wasn’t what I was expecting (but in a good way). I hoped it wouldn’t follow the line of love being a cure-all for depression because that’s not how life works. And Definitions doesn’t do that which I think is one of its stronger points. Plus the writing is different from any other contemporary novels I’ve read, making it a standout for that as well.
Though I can’t say I was really a fan of the underlined words with the snide comments following. It just…jolted me out of the story and they were frequent enough to become annoying.
In all honesty, this was not a good fit of a book for me. I was hoping for something more in line with books like The Upside of Unrequited and this didn’t quite meet those same expectations for me. I think there was a lot of work put into this book and that there are readers out there much better suited to it than I, so while I can’t personally recommend it I wouldn’t let this review stop you from reading it should it sound interesting.