What are your friends like? Do they talk, act and think the same as you? Or do they have a few quirky differences in their personalities?
In ‘the Definition of Us’ it would seem that Florence, Jasper, Andrew and Wilf have little in common, except that they attend the Manor Lane Therapy Centre. Each of them has their own problems and idiosyncracies, so why would they even think to do a road trip to Wales together?
It is when their therapist, Howard, goes missing without warning that they decide to track him down. How could he leave them without notice or explanation? Especially Florence, since she is facing a critical anniversary at the time, and is in need of his support to get through the weekend.
They want answers. They want distractions. They want to get away!
Each of the quartet has their own reasons for needing therapy, and while they are an unlikely friendship group, their shared goal (to find Howard) brings them into some interesting situations. As individuals, they respond differently to the events which happen, but together they rise above the challenges they meet along the way – eventually.
At crisis times, they are even able to provide some sort of reasoned therapy for each other, in the absence of Howard!
Author, Sarah Harris, has developed a fun but thoughtful way of looking at several mental health conditions; even if events are somewhat questionable at times. YA readers should identify with many of the issues within the group and should appreciate the ideas expressed by each individual.
(Even if you don’t have such an issue yourself, there may be food for thought about how others around you feel – though they may hide their own realities.)
Florence is particularly likeable, with her love for words emitting strong emotions, and her observations seemingly narrating the story. However other characters, like Andrew, also have a lot to say:
“It’s not funny. You think I’m just one big joke. You call me names and put me down but I’m not a robot. I do care. I spend a lot of time trying to understad people because I want them to like me… Why does no-one ever try to understand me?” (Andrew, p. 101, found after he ran away from the group on the freeway)
‘The Definition of Us’ pries into the hidden lives of Florence, Jasper, Andrew and Wilf to make us question what is really ‘normal’ – and make us think about how we treat others and ourselves.
* Do you always have to conform to the expectations of others?
** How can we know our true selves? and the true selves of others?
*** What is ‘normal’ anyway?
Available as ebook.