Juliet the Maniac : A Novel
Booklist Reviews 2019 April #1
Juliet is an average teenager living in sunny Southern California who begins high school with dreams of going to UC Berkeley or Columbia, but things quickly spiral downwards for her in a whirlwind of mental illness, drugs, and self-harm. She starts failing in school, becomes a truant, and is eventually diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder. Despite her prescribed medications and parental support, she cannot seem to gain control of her life. She loses her friends, attempts suicide, moves schools, and is eventually sent to a therapeutic boarding school for "better" help. During her two-year journey, she meets many people who are shocked or disgusted by her but also finds camaraderie among others who are going through the same thing. Author of the poetry collection Witch Hunt (2016) and the story collection Black Cloud (2014), Escoria here delivers a coming-of-age novel about teenage life and mental illness that's also an explosive work of autofiction. With bold honesty, she tells an unforgettable story that's unhindered by romanticism in its unabashed portrayal of Juliet's darkest struggles. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2019 March #3
Escoria's searing autofictional debut follows a teenage girl from Southern California—also named Juliet—as she navigates her high school years, which are marked by not only the more typical adolescent tumultuousness of drugs, partying, and social machinations, but also an eventual diagnosis of bipolar type I. Juliet's first suicide attempt at 15 leads to a stay in a psychiatric hospital, and over the next two years, she moves from high school to high school, all the while grappling with addictive behavior, mania, and an urge to self-harm. When she attempts suicide a second time, Juliet's parents send her to a rural boarding school, where she meets other teens, each with their own demons; adults, capable of both comfort and abuse; and opportunities for uncomplicated joy, as well. Escoria rejects a traditional structure, opting instead to tell the story in vignettes reminiscent of Eve Babitz's work, including handwritten notes, official reports and logs, and other paraphernalia from that era. The specificity lends the novel an immersive feel. Interspersed with letters from a future Juliet, who offers a glimmer of possibility if not exactly blind optimism, Escoria's novel is a moving and intimate portrait of girlhood and mental illness. Agent: Monika Woods, Curtis Brown, Ltd. (May)Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.