INDEPENDENCE DAY by Rachel Teller explores in minute detail the reality of high school graduate Candace Wisenhardt. It is a spellbinding peek into the life of someone suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Nicknamed ‘Cranky Candace’ by peers, the moniker is well earned. Though people initially gravitate towards the appealing former figure skater who happens to be the spitting image of a miniature Jennifer Lawrence, it is rarely long before being around someone who can’t stop herself from being verbally and physically abusive on a regular basis loses his charms. It usually only takes an instance or two of bad behavior before friends disappear. All except Candy’s boyfriend of the last three years, Mitchell Harlow–a hockey star on his way towards a future in the Western Hockey League if all goes according to plan. Candy’s parents also stand by her through thick and thin, which in Candy’s case is saying a lot, because she has been known to freak out at the drop of a hat with hardly any provocation. The invisible frustrations that spin and amplify in her mind cause her to become erratic, insulting, violent, and seemingly sometimes just flat out crazy in front of virtual strangers, as well as towards those she loves. It’s been this way since childhood. And that leaves Candace entirely unmotivated to do anything typical of her age group such as learning to drive, applying to college, or attempt to begin a career, though she has just become an adult.
Deftly juxtaposing the perspectives of Candy along with those affected by her, this uncommon novel offers a comprehensive day-to-day window into the process of adulting and learning to have healthier relationships, from the angle of someone extra challenged in this department. With concerns about mental health in teens on the rise, probing a bit more into why this is occurring would help round out the value of this book. In terms of providing a balanced look specifically at BPD, the novel would also be improved if Teller explored–at least via secondary or peripheral characters–how people with such mental illness cope when they are not cute enough to snag (and hold onto) an about-to-be-famous romantic partner and are not blessed with parents who are willing and able to financially support them into adulthood.
INDEPENDENCE DAY by Rachel Teller is a dynamic YA journey into mental health that is handled with a skillful touch in a fresh, teen-savvy way. Even young people not suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) with obsessive-compulsive tendencies are likely to find the story–and the becoming-a-grownup territory it delves into–engaging and potentially helpful.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader