Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Beautiful Failure by Janet Ruth Young

Billy is a sixteen year old high school sophomore.  The winter prior to the start of this book, his father was severely depressed.  He wasn't eating or sleeping and he eventually had to seek treatment.  This was a very stressful time for Billy and his family and it greatly influenced who Billy is today.   

Throughout the book, Billy maintains a watchful eye on his father and tries to make sure he does everything necessary to remain healthy.  He has even decided that he would like to become a psychologist because he wants to help others like his father.  His father decides to paint as a hobby and eventually wants to have an art show.  His stress level begins to increase and he is once again not sleeping or eating.  Billy begins to worry that things will spiral out of control again.

His father tells him to find a project or hobby of his own, so he decides to volunteer at Listeners, a suicide hot line.  He is remarkably good at listening and handles the calls perfectly when he first starts.  He begins to take a personal interest in one of the regular callers named Jenney.  

As Billy's concern for his father increases, so does his own need for emotional support.  He and Jenney begin to rely on each other and their relationship turns into more than that of a typical Listener and Incoming.

While Billy is not going to become my next fictional boyfriend, I can certainly appreciate what he was trying to accomplish.  He seemed to have only the best of intentions even if his actions were not always ideal.

I really enjoyed the format of the book.  When Billy wasn't talking to another character or caller, it felt like he was talking to the reader.  He would tell us about what happened when his father was ill and what he was observing now.  The chapters are very short and the conversational style kept the pages turning.

The one thing that did bother me is the fact that the author used an acronym twice in the book without defining it.  I spent a considerable amount of time researching it and even asked one of the doctors I work with to see if he knew what it meant, but I am still at a loss.  Based upon the context it was used in, I am guessing that Billy was referring to his father the way we would refer to a patient.  Kind of like he was the psychologist and his dad is his patient.  If a doctor and nurse can't figure out what the acronym means, it clearly should be defined when used in a teen novel.

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