Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu
Release Date: May 2nd 2017
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Apologies in advance for the nonsensical, badly written review! It’s 1am and I can’t really express my love for this book AND write about it in well-written sentences.
Put simply, Four Weeks, Five People follows five teenagers attending a summer wilderness therapy camp. Stella has severe depression, Andrew has anorexia, Clarissa has OCD and anxiety, Mason has Narcisstic Personality Disorder, and Ben has Depersonalisation disorder (and I think he also has Bipolar disorder, although I can’t be sure!). Having only suffered from Depression myself and having not dealt with any of the other disorders represented in the book, I can’t speak for the representation, however I felt all of it was handled sensitively, realistically and mental illness in this book was NOT romanticised (yay!)
Four Weeks, Five People was SO EASY to read! While I *technically* started this book at the end of April, I really didn’t have time to read at the time, so when I picked it up again, I read the entire book in almost one day. No joke, I read about 150 pages in one sitting and it felt like no time had gone by at all, it was completely unputdownable and each of the characters had me entirely captivated.
As there are five viewpoints, I was admittedly a little worried at first, however Jennifer Yu did a wonderful job of making each character’s voice unique and I found it easy to switch between characters as frequently as the book did. Each chapter was incredibly quick/easy to read and I enjoyed almost everyone’s point of view (except for Mason, who I just did not like in general).
I absolutely adored the rest of the characters and I found Stella to be particularly refreshing as she was so outspoken, snarky and generally pissed off at the world. Admittedly, Stella did say some pretty shitty/offensive things, they were quickly challenged by other characters in text which I REALLY appreciated, and despite being incredibly stubborn, Stella was incredibly understanding of others and apologised when she messes up.
Andrew was probably my other favourite character and I wanted to hug him/be his friend so badly. We see the very beginning of his eating disorder recovery and while I’ve never had an eating disorder, it felt authentic and was incredibly emotional to read (I admit, most of my tears were caused by Andrew).
As this is a book about recovery, I wasn’t too sure what to expect because let’s be real, recovery doesn’t just happen in four weeks or less. It’s a long road, full of ups and downs and you might have lots of good days, but also just as many bad days. It’s not straightforward, and as someone who considers themselves recovered from depression, my mental health is still something I work at EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. This book didn’t try and pretend the characters would be 100% better by the end, it’s repeatedly drilled into you that four weeks is NOT a very long period of time and I was completely okay with this! If you’re expecting a shit tonne of character development or recovery from them in Four Weeks, Five People, you’ll be disappointed. The characters certainly experience growth and learn things, but at the end of the day, they are still all in recovery and this therapy camp just happens to be a part of their recovery, not the end of it.
There was also a little bit of romance, which while I was okay with, I’m glad it didn’t overshadow everything else. As a result of said romance, there’s also a big part where Stella basically says romance is not a cure for mental illness and you shouldn’t rely on romance to help you. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS PART??? I was half cheering her on when she was saying this (although a lot of what Stella says comes across as an attack, I STILL LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS – also Stella is still pretty awesome in general tbh)
While I loved this book overall, I do wish we got to see some things from other people’s perspectives, instead of seeing certain events unfold from another’s eyes (I won’t go into detail, because spoilers!). However, I think this just made me want more from the story as a whole and I’d love to read the backstories (or futures) of a lot of the characters because I felt so attached to them!
Four Weeks, Five People at it’s core is a story about recovery and all that can encompass it. Beautifully written with memorable characters, I absolutely loved this book so incredibly much and flew through it in a day.
Thankyou Harlequin Australia for sending me this book to review, this in no way affected my review or rating