An auto fictional portrait of teenage mental illness and self-harm. It's 1997, and 14-year-old Juliet has it pretty good. But over the course of the next two years, she rapidly begins to unravel, finding herself in a downward trajectory of mental illness and self-destruction.
... a powerful mix of biography, exploration of mental illness, and fragments of a nightmare journal of the space between girlhood and womanhood ... Some parts could be confused with fiction, when Escoria is writing about hallucinations, but the narrative is full of letters, notes, and even patient logs that make it more of a detailed memoir, spanning two tumultuous years in Escoria's life ... an honest, harrowing book that deals with addiction and mental illness while also showing the changing ways in which teenagers experience life. Escoria never sugarcoats any of it. Instead, she shares everything, showing readers how humans can be broken in strange ways that no amount of therapy and medication can fix. It also offers a glimpse into the nightmarish lives of those with profoundly damaged psyches ... Escoria earns the readers' trust early, and that helps her story feel like a continuous gut punch, a 336-page attack on the senses that makes readers suffer whenever Escoria suffers, until they're as confused as she is ... a necessary read ... a heartfelt, raw, powerfully told story about surviving mental illness and learning to cope with inner demons. Escoria is a talented writer who's not afraid to write her truth, even when it will scrape viciously at the souls of readers. This book hurt, but by the last page all I wanted was to give the author a hug and thank her for sharing.
Narrating between the experiences of Juliet’s past self and the hindsight of her future self, Escoria weaves a story that isn’t just relatable to those with mental illness, but really illustrates what it’s like for those readers who don’t have it ... Escoria’s writing traces the scars in this book with a gentle fingertip, capturing the moments with a dream-like clarity, watching them unfold, knowing what the consequences will be ... The juxtaposition of smiling elite alongside the 'Palms Trash' (as her group of friends comes to be known) is both striking and refreshing.
I struggled to write this review. Not because Juliet the Maniac is undeserving of praise. But how to honor the glimmering beauty of its teenage voice, sharpened by pain, without amplifying the siren calls of self-harm and suicidal ideation that fell over author Juliet Escoria during the onset of bipolar disorder, which she fictionalized for her debut novel? ... Novels that consider the unflinching question of whether to die often bend toward showing us how to live. To read Juliet the Maniac is to confront our shared faith in the flawed logic of life’s meaning, and by so doing, become worthier of our humanity.