Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Publish Date: September 4, 2012
When Jason Milwaukee’s best friend, Sunshine, disappears from the face of the earth, the whole town, including Jason, starts searching for her. But the insistent voices in Jason’s head won’t let him get to the heart of the mystery—he’s schizophrenic, and the voices make it hard to know what is real and what is not. As the chase becomes more panicked, Jason’s meds start wearing off, and he is looking more and more guilty. But of what, exactly? –(summary excerpt from Goodreads)
My Thoughts: Jason, Drip, and Sunshine are alphabets. They ride the short bus at school and are in a self-contained classroom that is labeled SED. That’s Severely Emotionally Disturbed.
Jason is SCZI. That means he is schizophrenic. Drip is ADHD and Sunshine is SM, or selectively mute. Together they have this friendship that is a bit wonky-looking to other people, but it completely works. They are tight – a great support system for each other. Because they are alphabets, nobody takes them seriously or listens to them. They are also a target for bullies.
When Sunshine suddenly goes missing, it throws their trio out of sorts. See, they work well when things go as normal…but with Sunshine missing, Drip is starting to spazz a little and freak out and Jason’s voices are speaking to him more than ever. The won’t stop. Before too long, Jason is having a harder and harder time telling what is reality and what isn’t. He is completely focused on getting his best friend back and will cooperate in any way to help, but he is looking more and more like he might be responsible for her disappearance. But did he cause her to disappear? And where did she go? Is she coming back? Why can’t he remember? He is trying so hard to be helpful but all of the stress is making him look more and more suspicious…
When I started reading Freaks Like Us, I was interested in Jason right away. His voice was different than anything I had ever read before and I wanted to know more about him. I had no idea how compelling it would be, even without considering Sunshine’s disappearance.
The story is told in first person, but it is Jason’s first person – which means it is a schizophrenic point-of-view. You have to know this going into it because it takes a little bit of adjustment to switching back and forth between Jason and Jason’s voices. The author makes this easy for us, of course, with italics – but it is still an initial shock with run-on sentences and stream-of-consciousness here and there. By the time I was finished with the prologue, I was comfortable with Jason and his voices and completely into the story…which is good because it gets started right away and doesn’t really let up until it is over.
It is clear that Susan Vaught has written Jason’s POV with a skilled knowledge about this type of issue. Even though I mention that there are run-ons and back-and-forth between Jason and his voices, Jason tells his story in a way that flows really well to be coming from him. By that, I mean it sounds complicated but it works perfectly and it so awesome to read. There is a rhythm to the reading, I thought, and I was so enthralled with Jason’s thoughts and the voices that I felt like I was almost having his thoughts myself. I felt like I was at the scene of the investigation, like I was being questioned about Sunshine’s disappearance. I felt like I was present in all of the scenes.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I had no idea what to expect with Freaks Like Us, but I think it is wonderful. I completely appreciate reading this POV because it is totally new to me and I actually know people that experience issues like Jason’s. Isn’t it awesome to have a peak into the world of other people sometimes?
Freaks Like Us is a quick read and a great story. It is very entertaining and insightful. After having read it, I want to go back and seek out more of Susan Vaught’s work. I recommend Freaks Like Us to contemporary YA readers that tend to like books with issues and male protagonists.
YA Contemporary with Issues
Male Protagonist with a great POV
Freaks Like Usby Susan Vaught
I absolutely love the sound of this and would never have heard of it without your review. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention, Asheley!
This one is really quite good. I'm so glad I read it. I LOVED the voice and I had never experienced ANYTHING like it before in books or my nursing experience. I highly highly recommend it, plus it is a quick read.
Wow, schizophrenic POV – that sounds like a super unique reading experience! Also, YAY for standalone!! You already have me hooked on the story – adding to the TBR right now 🙂
It's really good. I was SO INTO IT.
My coblogger Allison LOVED Freaks Like Us. I am glad to see you loving it as well. Her writing style sounds like something I'd like, even though the schizophrenia would probably confuse me at first.
Nice job with this review 🙂
It only takes a few pages to get used to Jason's POV. I was well into it before the Prologue was finished. It is a fantastic glimpse into a schizophrenic POV, as most of us never get the experience of being inside of that mind. This author did SUCH an amazing job.
I've been really anxious to read this, in fact it was on my top ten fall TBR list. So I'm glad to finally read a review, especially one that makes me absolutely positive I will love it. Great review, Asheley!
I hope you liked it like I did. It seems like it would be a great one for one of your classes, although I don't really know what your class assignments are. 🙂
I picked it up and didn't expect to read it all at once, but I just LOVED the voice of Jason and the way he was written. It was a great book for me to keep getting my feet wet with these issue-contemps.
I mean, I hope you LIKE it. As in, when you get a chance to read it. 🙂
I didn't even think about using it for my adolescent lit. class! I might have to switch one of my choices out for this one. 🙂 Got some bad school-news last night which resulted in a Barnes & Noble order, which included this book! Yay issue books! Is this one of the three that you mentioned was coming up?
It is! Freaks Like Us, Butter, and Send Me A Sign!
I'm actually really enjoying my venture into the issue-book world.
Eeep! I have this on my Adobe Reader from Netgalley. I need to jump on it and read this one before it expires. Lol.
Great review, Ash. I can't wait to read it!
Oh! I want to see what you think of it! I haven't read many many thoughts on it yet and I want to see what other people are thinking. I loved it.
It's so funny how similarly we read. 🙂
I am so seriously sad that I passed this one up. The cover didn't really grab me. I am such a cover whore. I didn't realize it was about ALL THIS STUFF. I am going to have to buy it now, thanks to you. AWESOME review.
I know what you mean about the cover! If I wasn't doing my read-outside-of-my-comfort-zone thing I might not have even given it a chance, but I would have really missed out on something great. Like I mentioned to Lorren up at the top of this thread, not only have I never read anything like this POV, I never got to work with a person like this in my working experience, so this is completely new to me. Loved this glimpse. Plus Jason is a great character and I FLEW thru this book.
…on a Sunday…with a football game on. Yep.
I haven't heard of this one before but I'm interested now. I love how you talked about "a rhythm to the reading." I think that's a really cool choice of words and I TOTALLY get it. Great phrase:)
Plus it's another issue book, and even though you don't love them I almost always DO:)
Heather this book is so great. I don't know what else to say!
As you know I loved loved LOVED this book!
I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed it too! 😀
Yes! I really did enjoy it. I keep looking at the book like I want the story to continue, actually. I kind of miss Jason. I think I got attached to him a little bit. 🙂
Oh goodness this sounds like such an interesting book! I remember reading Ned Vizzini's book and LOVING that it was coming from a person with a mental disorder. This sounds like it may be along those same lines. Your review was phenomenal and it has completely convinced me that I need this book 🙂
This sounds completely compelling! The style of telling the story is definitely something else, and I'm interested in finding out just what happens.