Let’s play some mind games, shall we?
Today, A Danger to Herself and Others goes out into the world, and I’m here to gush about it…
But, we’re doing things differently this time.
Don’t worry, I’ll still scream like a mad girl! You’d confuse me with someone else if I didn’t, and we can’t have that. But this is a book of deception. It hooks you, it lies to you, and it makes you love it by tricking you. And THEN it punches you in the face with HEART-WRENCHING STUFF!! (here, my friends, the mad screams.)
So I, of course, want to make you feel the way I did before you even read it.
What do I mean by this?? Well. Sit tight. In this review, I’m your unreliable narrator.
That’s right. I can trick you. I can use subtle contradictions. I can throw all reasonable facts out the window. And you’ll never be sure if I’m telling the truth or not! This is mind games in book review form, and I take no responsibility for whatever catastrophes it brings about. Because you’ve been warned.
Trust nothing from here on, or… Do? Your call.
~ Here’s the first thing you need to know: Hannah Gold is not insane.
There’s been a mistake. When Agnes fell out of her dorm window, it wasn’t anyone’s fault, it was an accident. And there’s no reason Hannah should be institutionalized for it. She was Agnes’s best friend, after all. People will see that, eventually.
~ Hannah Gold is innocent. Hannah Gold would never hurt a fly.
In the meantime, she’s trapped. Stuck in a room with two beds, one small window, 7 feet by 8 feet of space. Her own feet, not the actual measurement… She’s counted. Several times.
The institution is a dreary place, and her empty days in it are even worse.
I stand on my tiptoes to look out my small window and wait for the few plants and trees I can see to dry out and die.
~ Hannah Gold is… A danger to herself and others
That’s what they wrote down in her file. Not that they’d know anyway, since no one’s competent enough to realize what’s really going on… Her doctor is stupid. Her lawyer is useless. The nurses and guards are probably there because they couldn’t get a less dull job. And let’s not even talk about the lady tasked with supervising showers, which is a privilege Hannah hasn’t earned yet, anyway. These people don’t even have good grammar, and they’re responsible for telling if she’s sane?? They’re derailing her life. Things couldn’t get any worse.
~ Hannah Gold is not the nicest girl
Can you tell? Manipulative. Arrogant. Full of herself. You might not like her a lot. And she won’t care.
~ Hannah Gold will lie to you
But she needs to show her doctor just how sane she is. She needs to show her what a good friend she can be. They’ll all see she’s fine. She can be persuasive enough. She can play their game.
It’s not true that I can only see a few plants from here. We’re actually in the middle of a forest. I was lying before.
~ And lucky for her, Hannah Gold is good at making friends
She’s had 12 different best friends since the first grade. It’s what she does best. It’s why things were so good with Agnes. They shared everything, they talked until late at night, they played games. Everything was fine. If she can do that again, in here, she’ll show them that.
~ Hannah Gold is too old for games
Nevermind that it was the games that got her in trouble. It was an accident. No one thought Agnes would fall when she stepped on that ledge… “Too old for these games”, she’d said, but she’d laughed and played anyway. If only Agnes could tell them that… But she’s in a coma. There’s a tube in her throat. Hannah has to fix this on her own.
~ Hannah Gold is Lucy’s new best friend
So when they assign Lucy as her roommate at the institution, that’s her perfect chance to change things for the better. Lucy is flawed. She’s annoying. She’s mean. But Hannah can ignore all that. She can be a good friend.
~Hannah Gold is a good person, after all
She’s likable. She’s witty and clever, and she’s nice. Soon, Lucy and her will be as inseparable as she was with Agnes. And she can help Lucy. Just like she’s helping Agnes’s parents by playing the scapegoat, while they get over the pain of what happened. They can’t really think it’s her fault forever… Why would she have sat at Agnes’s bedside if it was? Why would she have insisted they let her in the room, even though she wasn’t family?
They needed someone to blame, and I was the only available scapegoat. Their daughter was my best friend. Playing the scapegoat was the least I could do under the circumstances.
~ Hannah Gold is just telling the truth
And she’s told everyone what happened that night. She’s told them everything. Well… Almost everything. But it was all true. She wouldn’t lie.
~ Hannah Gold has a perfect life to go back to
Time is ticking. The school semester has already started, there are college applications to fill out. The longer she’s trapped, the more things can go terribly wrong. There’s a whole life waiting back with her parents, who trust her, who made her lucky from the day she was born. Because she was born mature. She didn’t need to be treated differently, like other kids. They took her everywhere with them, they told her everything, they taught her right.
~ Hannah Gold’s life isn’t perfect at all
Or did they? No, they’re rude. They’re prejudiced. They only care about what’s good for them. They want someone to show off, not a flawed daughter. Not someone who’s a “danger to herself and others”. They’re traveling in Europe, while she’s stuck here. They’re leaving her alone, like they’ve done her whole life.
~ Whatever the truth is, Hannah Gold has an interesting mind
Her thoughts are are enough to keep you hooked. She’s smart, she’s amusing, she thinks of the most unlikely things. It makes her likable. You’ll want to root for her.
~ And Hannah Gold is being lied to
Gaslighting, manipulation. They’ll make her doubt herself just to keep her here. Everything that’d be normal in the real world can be twisted into a symptom. They want her trapped.
Well, I understand everything. I understand that Dr. Lightfoot is lying to me, playing some kind of game, enjoying a sick power trip. Maybe she’s still mad at me for getting locked out of the room the other day. Maybe she wants to remind me that she’s the one in control, that as long as I’m in this room, the truth is whatever she decides it is.
~ Hannah Gold… is broken
There’s something wrong. And getting out of here won’t make it right.
On a very *honest* note, if you love unreliable narrators and some good mental health rep, this book is for you.
Be careful, it’s addicting… And definitely not what you expect. Yes, even after this review.
I haven’t screamed nearly enough, though, so let me tell you one more thing. Everything you just read… Contradictions included… IS ACTUALLY TRUE IN SOME WAY!! Make of that what you will.
Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape…
Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there’s been a mistake. She didn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn’t a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side.
Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.
Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks fire for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Do you like unreliable narrators? And would you rather be tricked, or know what’s going on from the start?