cover image The Law of Loving Others

The Law of Loving Others

Kate Axelrod. Razorbill, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-59514-789-9

Seventeen-year-old Emma returns home from boarding school for winter break to find that her mother is having a psychotic break—her parents never told her that her mother was diagnosed as schizophrenic years ago and has been taking medication for the condition since college. Emma’s mother’s subsequent institutionalization is like an earthquake in Emma’s life, threatening her romantic relationship with her boyfriend Daniel and her own sense of security. Emma worries whether she, too, is genetically disposed toward schizophrenia and starts down a path of self-harm. Heavy on Emma’s internal monologue, debut novelist Axelrod’s prose is careful, intelligent, and contemplative, and the past-tense narration gives the impression of an older Emma looking back at a painful, but critical episode in her teenage years from a safe distance in the future. As Emma cheats on her boyfriend, turns to scarring her body, and seeks connections in whatever ways she can, her actions never feel anything but realistic in this reflective and incisive exploration of the far-reaching effects of mental illness. Ages 14–up. Agent: Melissa Flashman, Trident Media Group. (Jan.)