Publishing Info: August 16, 2007 by HarperCollins
Genres: Contemporary, Psych/Mental Health, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 3, 2013
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way
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.
I was really excited to get to SISTERS IN SANITY as part of the Gayle Forman Read Along! I’m a huuuuge fan of basically every other Gayle Forman book so I was curious to pick up her first book (although technically I guess she wrote another book/memoir from a journalistic aspect? Curious.) to see how it all started!
SISTERS IN SANITY is the story of Brit, a 16-year-old girl who was raised in coffee shops amongst bands and artists until her mother starts showing serious signs of schizophrenia and her family begins to fall apart. We first meet Brit when her father, now re-married, is dropping her off at Red Rock: a facility designed to help “straighten out” trouble teens. Her once normal upbringing is now seen as wild and disrespectful and Brit struggles to understand why her father has taken such extreme measures instead of… you know… talking to her.
Brit’s story was not an easy one to read in the sense that it just broke my heart to see such disconnect between Brit and her father when they were once a happy family. Really when it comes down to it, it seems like her dad is just scared. He fell apart after her mother’s mental illness and he never quite recovered and you can tell that he’s just scared Brit is going to end up just like her mother. He can’t deal with that so he sends her to Red Rock. I don’t think HE ever realized that, but I think that’s pretty obvious to the reader!
Red Rock is a terrible place. There’s nothing awfully brutal about it, but one thing here and one thing there started adding up until I finally had it (and Brit too). I seriously got angry towards the end of the book and then the administration really started to cross the line and I lost it. It was tough to see Brit cut off from the outside world and even more tough when her dad didn’t even seem to want to make contact most of the time.
I absolutely loved the “Sisters in Sanity”, as they called themselves — Brit made a fantastic group of friends that really did become like her family. They were all different personalities, but they bonded together over their mutual hate of Red Rock and their need for some sanity in the middle of a facility that treated everyone like they were crazy when they certainly weren’t. I think V was one of my favorite characters followed closely by Bebe. They were the two Sisters that stood out the most for me and I loved their friendship with Brit!
Overall, I really enjoyed SISTERS IN SANITY but it wasn’t nearly as deeply emotional as Gayle Forman’s later books. There was a really nice romance between Brit and Jed and I definitely swooned a few times! I didn’t quite fall head over heels though. If you’re a Gayle Forman fan, SISTERS IN SANITY will be a good read for you! It’s quick, interesting, and a nice balance of light and heavy. A really funny thing was that since I’ve read the rest of Gayle’s books, I could definitely see bits and pieces of them in her first novel. I saw SO much of IF I STAY in SISTERS IN SANITY with the music background, the coffee shops… It just made that that much more anxious to start IF I STAY soon!
Brit Hemphill // Character Obsessions: Getting out of Red Rock, standing her ground, proving she’s not crazy.
I felt so bad for Brit. She got put in Red Rock with no warning, no say, and just abandoned there, basically. She’s got a somewhat feisty personality, although not as wild as her father makes it out to be, and so she tries to fight the system which ultimately pushes her further into it. I loved how she made friends at Red Rock and essentially found a different kind of family when her actual relatives were not communicating with her or treating her well. I really liked her determination and it was interesting to get inside her head when she was thinking/worrying about her mother and if there was a chance that she could end up that way as well.
Virginia aka V // Character Obsessions: Helping Brit, sticking up for the Sisters, damning the man. V was another one of my favorite characters. She seems like a sort of protector of the group having been in Red Rock for a long time. She knows how the facility works and how to get what she wants so she was a great ally for Brit to have. V also has her own secrets as well which I found to be really interesting when the time came for that reveal!
Kept Me Hooked On: Gayle Forman. While this wasn’t the most emotionally raw GF book, I still love her writing and it was so interesting to see aspects of future books in here!
Left Me Wanting More: Romance! We do see some of Brit & Jed and what we got was adorable. I just wished it made up a bigger part of the story in the beginning.
I wasn’t as emotionally invested in this as other Gayle Forman books but… It’s Gayle Forman! It was really an enjoyable read and it’s a must-have to sit comfy-cozy next to my other Gayle Forman books 🙂