Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: 1st December, 2016
According to sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne, nowhere is an actual place—and she’s just fine there. But her parents insist that she get out of her head—and her home state—and attend Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens.
Zander does not fit in—or so she thinks. She has only one word for her fellow campers: crazy. In fact, the whole camp population exists somewhere between disaster and diagnosis. There’s her cabinmate Cassie, a self-described manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Grover Cleveland (yes, like the president), a cute but confrontational boy who expects to be schizophrenic someday, odds being what they are. And Bek, a charmingly confounding pathological liar.
But amid group “share-apy” sessions and forbidden late-night outings, unlikely friendships form, and as the Michigan summer heats up, the four teens begin to reveal their tragic secrets. Zander finds herself inextricably drawn to Grover’s earnest charms, and she begins to wonder if she could be happy. But first she must come completely unraveled to have any hope of putting herself back together again.
I really enjoyed this book! It took me a few days to get through it (it seems I keep hitting mini-slumps when I get to the middle of a book), but I determinedly sat down the other night and quickly finished it in a couple of hours.
My initial reaction upon finishing this book was: did it have to end? Can’t they be at camp forever? And then, what other books has this wonderful author written? The Odds was such a lovely novel, and I’m sort of feeling love-struck.
‘”If we don’t have hope, Zander, we don’t have anything.”‘
This novel had so much representation for mental illness, along with race and gender identity. A lot of mental illnesses were briefly talked about, and though I can’t speak on the accuracy of them all, I thought how they were portrayed was really positive. We don’t really go in-depth about any of the disorders which I would’ve liked to have seen (at least with our main character Zander), yet at the same time there was no hiding from the brutal-ness of mental illness – somethings that were said were pretty hard-hitting.
I liked our characters! I really felt for Zander – she experienced something very traumatising, and my heart really sympathised with her. The way she feared feeling anything instead of just being numb broke my heart – because in some cases, it is easier not to feel – but it’s not healthy, and truthfully, it sucks. I was really glad to see the character growth she went through.
Now comes the enigma that was Cassie. Cassie was a whirlwind of a character, and I couldn’t quite wrap my head around her (I still can’t). I liked her (I think) – it’s hard because she was really mean, but I think that was because being rude was the only way she really knew how to protect herself.
Zander’s friendship with Cassie was a roller-coaster, but I loved that it was such a big part of the book. Friendship isn’t normally the focus of YA books (though it really should be – a romantic interest isn’t the most important thing in the world), and I felt like it was such an important aspect in this novel, which was a brilliant surprise. Although this book is titled ‘loving Grover‘, I definitely felt like it was more about friendship, and the importance of learning to trust. (On a side note, if you read this book, you’ll understand why the name of this novel is so clever.)
Alex Trebek was a pathological liar, and I felt our main character’s frustration reflected in myself when it came to him. I had a slight issue with something that happened with Alex – but I can’t say what, because it’s a bit of a spoiler. I’m just sort of doubting a change that happened within his personality.
Then there’s Grover. I don’t feel like I got to know him really – I know he’s eccentric, sort of poetic, and just wants to help people, but the focus was definitely on the relationship factor. I can’t say much, because of spoilers (though I guess perhaps the books title could be a bit of a spoiler), but I’m glad that whatever transpired between Zander and Grover took a backseat.
The ending had me all emotional, I won’t lie. I do have an issue with the very end: it just didn’t seem realistic. And again, I’m sort of stuck not being able to explain why I feel that way, because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. (But just trust me; I think my opinion has good reason.)
We don’t end on a cliff-hanger, but we don’t know how our characters end up – it’s sort of more like the author was saying, ‘this is where I finish, now give them the future you want’, and I really liked that. It’s nice to be able to imagine a better ending than perhaps would be the reality.
The Odds is a wonderful novel, and I recommend it to everyone who enjoys Young Adult novels that tackle important issues.
- Mentions of: anorexia, anxiety, schizophrenia, pathological lying, self harm, bulimia, depression and bipolar disorder