I can’t remember the last time I read a book that made me cry as much as More Than Us by Ryan Jones did. This book deals with themes of suicide, mental health, and self-harm, so please be aware if you decide to add this title to your TBR list.
More Than Us follows the story of Lora, a 20 year old U of T student in the early 2000s, who saves Harper’s life after a suicide attempt. I promise this isn’t a spoiler, it’s literally what happens in the first chapter. From there, we see the two of them form a relationship, and navigate their very personal struggles with mental health.
I really enjoyed the different settings that were used throughout the story. I lived in Toronto while doing my post-grad, and felt the familiar pull of coffee shops and late nights on campus. It was really easy for me to look back and relate to that aspect of the character’s lives, and made the story more realistic for me. Being in school and away from home was extremely difficult for me, and I also saw a lot of my own mental health struggles portrayed in the book as well.
Feelings of loneliness and worthlessness, skipping out on therapy appointments, and anxiety that seems to skyrocket for no apparent reason are all too familiar for me. Seeing Lora and Harper discuss their feelings and how it affected their everyday life was in many ways very realistic. However, I understand that everyone’s mental health is very unique, so what seems familiar to me may not be for someone else.
I will say though that not everything in this book is wholly realistic. The way that Harper is so casually discharged from the hospital made me gasp. I understand that this book is fictional, and hope that readers recognize some of the gaps and do not assume that the story is all-encompassing of a patient’s experience.
I’m glad that a YA contemporary novel is exploring these themes, and hope that it helps spread awareness and break down the stigmas that are attached to mental health. Throughout the book we see Lora stand up again and again for her friends and family who are battling depression, and reminding people that it’s a common illness. Depression doesn’t define a person, and should be treated no differently from a physical ailment.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. It’s not a happy story; in fact, it’s one of the saddest stories I’ve read in a while. However, it was a fast read, kept me entertained, and championed the importance of therapy in a way I’ve yet to see in any other YA contemporary books (if anyone has recommendations, please let me know!).
Thank you to the publisher, Zenith Publishing, for an electronic copy of this book via Booksprout. More Than Us by Ryan Jones comes out on August 4, 2020.