Hey, writers and readers!
It’s not a good month without an indie novel or two. Today I’ll be reviewing Idiot by Holly Smith. Check out the review below and make sure to give your two cents in the comments section if you’ve already read the book, too!
Rating: 3 stars
Eva Langston shares her story about how she ended up in a rehab center after escaping an abusive step-father and how she intends to lead a full, healthy life despite her past. While she doesn’t think she is as crazy as the other kids around her, she learns some tough lessons on becoming a better person and creating healthy relationships.
But life outside of rehab can be a whole different story. Once Eva is ready to spread her wings, she must learn who she can trust with all her heart and who she must let go for the sake of her newfound sanity and self love.
Based on a true story, Idiot is all about rising above abuse and living a life of your own making.
What I Enjoyed:
The best form of character development in this novel is Eva’s writing voice. Since this book is written in 1st person, journal style, you really see Eva’s writing style when she’s writing for herself. There’s slang, the profanity, and her quips. Who wouldn’t be constantly annoyed in a rehab center when you’re convinced you’re the most sane person there?
Over the course of the novel, you can see Eva’s growth primarily through her voice. You can see she has learned to self-soothe and her world view is changing and broadening. Since Eva starts out as a teenager and the novel ends with her in her early twenties, it would make sense that her voice or writing style would change over time. Smith did a really great job of making this change gradual and natural.
What I Didn’t Enjoy:
I don’t give many 3/5 ratings here or on Goodreads for many reasons, but this novel unfortunately sits at a 3 for me. While it is short and easy for younger kids to pick up and relate to, I wasn’t sure the story could do enough for actual survivors of mental, verbal, and physical abuse. This was mainly because of the plot–or lack thereof.
The book is very plot-heavy towards the beginning. You ‘re with Eva in the rehab center and you wonder if she’s going to make it out or if she’ll recover from the years of abuse she went through. Then, she is miraculously adopted out of nowhere by the most perfect family ever. Since the journal entries don’t have dates, this came as a surprise and sort of stole any promise of tension or struggle. She still has a few quirks but it’s almost as if she’s completely “cured.”
This isn’t to say that I hate it when authors treat characters well, but this all happens around the 1/3 mark. The rest of the novel coasts with hardly any other major action or climax. I skipped ahead in some parts because things were too pleasant or predictable. There’s a mini story and climax towards the end, but it’s rushed, too.
I would imagine that a normal story about abuse, recover, and adoption would come with relapses along the way. I’ve never experience rehab, but based on other stories from friends and family, I understand that adoption can be a bumpy ride, especially when adopting a teenager from a rehab center.
Eva doesn’t have any obstacles–mental or physical–for the majority of the book. I wish I could’ve seen more about how she builds a relationship with her new parents and siblings, and the ups and downs of entering a new family.
My Final Thoughts
Ultimately, this is a breezy novel for young adults who want to learn more about abuse and the recovery process. It’s also a great way to discuss one’s sexuality and navigate the world once you have accepted yourself. However, it might leave kids and adults wanting more discussion on what happens after rehab–the most struggly part of the process.
I hope I shared enough to still pique your curiosity without giving too much away. If you’d like to learn more about Holly Smith and her work, you can catch up with her via social media:
Have you read this novel? Share with me in the comments! You can also see all of my other book reviews by checking our the Book Reviews tab.