BOOK REVIEW #2 – Juliet Escoria, Juliet the Maniac
BOOK REVIEW TIME! If you had the luck to stumble upon Juliette Escoria’s Black Cloud, Elizabeth Ellen’s Fast Machine or Megan Boyle’s LIVEBLOG, you’re in the right place.
Never heard about any of these books? No worries, you’re still in the right place.
Chances are, we might even give you the urge to enrich your literary life with this major event in modern literature called Juliet the Maniac.
Juliet the Maniac: plot and opinion
Juliet the Maniac depicts the teenage years of Juliet, a young girl struggling with drug addiction, with her questionable environment and with mental health issues. From schools to institutions, from friendship to oblivion, from lost to (almost) found, Juliet will arouse the reader’s sensibility with empathy, compassion and bittersweet nostalgia. Juliet the Maniac is not a therapy book per se, think of it as nonfiction that has appeal for the troubled and the stable.
We have all known a Juliet at some point in our life.
Comparing this book to Plath’s The Bell Jar is flattering, but not exactly the truth. Escoria’s style is much more digest, and just as palatable.
To get closer to the mood of the book, listen to this playlist put together by Juliet for the blog Largehearted Boy:
A look at the reading group guide: highlights and in-depth review
The book includes a reading guide (available here). To avoid superficial appreciation, we chose to use three of the questions of the reading guide to express our point of view and the way our reading resonated.
1. Juliet's voice is unrelenting raw, and honest. How does the voice drive the narrative?
Despite peer pressure, drugs and mental health difficulties, Juliet stays firm on her tracks without being overly stubborn for her young age. Juliet might at some point lack of clarity and self-knowledge, but her spirit and will to live are glowing and even empowering for the reader.
A rushed read could reveal that the book revolves around sadness and death, but Juliet’s adventures show at many occasions how attached to life and how attached to the others she can be.
Juliet the Maniac is not a cry for death and comfortable despair. Juliet the Maniac is a cry for life.
2. Did the book change your perception of mental illness? If so, how?
Mental illness has its share of misconceptions, barriers and beliefs. Juliet the Maniac changed the way we perceived mental illness, and goes beyond awareness. Find below a few common societal misconceptions and how the book answers them:
- “What’s the big deal, medication exists”
>>> Medication exists, but will work if the diagnosis established is the right one. Bad prescription medication is common, and is hell. Let’s not even talk about experimental medication.
- “Why won’t their families help?”
>>> In most cases, families are unarmed for cases of mental illness. Furthermore, it’s not a matter of choosing to help, it’s a matter of knowing how to, and of having the strength to.
- “Mental illness is basically attention seeking”
>>> Puking and raving are far from attractive, so erase that thought.
Juliet the Maniac is not a book of sterile militancy, but a book for people searching for knowledge and understanding of the world, and of themselves.
3. On the use of short chapters and images.
As we understood it, two relevant reasons:
- Modern life: the alternation of text and images helps the reader’s focus and attention, while satiating one’s desire for novelty and variety. Subway readers will get this.
- Truth and honesty: images are the words’ warrants. Words in multitude create imagination, fabrication and derivation from facts. Shortness might even be seen here as a sign of humility.
Juliet the Maniac is the most honest and heart-wrenching book you’ll read this season. Escoria completes here one of the soul’s challenges: in distress and in order to get better, trying to escape bias on oneself.
About the author and purchase options
Juliet Escoria is the author of the novel Juliet the Maniac (2019). She also wrote the short story collection Black Cloud, which was originally published in 2014 by Civil Coping Mechanisms. In 2015, Emily Books published the ebook, Maro Verlag published a German translation, and Los Libros de la Mujer Rota published a Spanish translation. Witch Hunt, a collection of poems, was published by Lazy Fascist Press in 2016.
She was born in Australia, raised in San Diego, and currently lives in West Virginia.