Synopses & Reviews
when i am well
i will take you
At first Billy's father just seemed distant, as if he had something on his mind. Then he stopped listening to music, saying it hurt his ears. After a while he stopped eating and sleeping. And after that he just stopped. Stopped being Billy's father and his friend and became someone else. Someone who was depressed and withdrawn and wouldn't respond to treatments.
Determined to help their father, Billy and his family devise a series of unconventional therapies for him. But the strain of looking after Dad begins to wear on them all. Billy stops writing songs and starts avoiding his friends. His sister wants to suicide-proof the house. And his mother worries about losing her job because she takes so much time off. Taking care of Dad is starting to sap the strength they need to keep him alive.
The Opposite of Music is a powerful and realistic debut novel about the lengths a family will go to in order to save one of their own, and the strength it takes to learn how to ask for help.
"In her first novel, Young explores the emotional toll clinical depression takes on one family, especially 15-year-old Billy. Arriving home one day after school with his friend Gordy, Billy is surprised to find his father, Bill Sr., already home. The man acts strangely, as if he 'sees us but doesn't acknowledge us in any way.' A doctor confirms that Bill is suffering from depression. At first, the family members go along with the doctor's recommendation to put Bill on medication but then decide to develop their own program after he suffers several worrisome side effects. Billy agrees to help his father, but his commitment comes at a high price ('You will come home directly after school so that you can take over from me,' says his mother). Billy puts all of his energy into helping his dad only to witness his father's mental health deteriorating. Billy's first-person narration conveys his growing desperation. He expresses his fears and concerns in songs and poetry, as well as through his reactions to books and articles he reads as he researches his father's illness. When his father becomes suicidal, the family decides to seek medical intervention using electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Without judgment, Young lays out the circumstances of Bill's illness and the repercussions on the family. Teens who have encountered similar issues will be able to relate to Billy's emotional ups and downs, and to recognize the effects on his mother. As his father's mental health improves with the ECT, Billy articulates the family's fragile sense of hope, even as he finds it difficult to relinquish his role as caretaker. Ages 14-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"No reader can fail to be touched by the combination of determination, courage, and magical thinking that the Morrisons call forth when they realize their father has lost his way. Every family fights similar battles.
But few families have an innovative and compassionate writer like Janet Ruth Young to chronicle the struggle."
-- Lois Lowry, author of the Newbery Award-winning novels, Number the Stars and The Giver
"The Opposite of Music is a skilled and unsettling storyof enmeshment in the extreme. Eerily absorbing!" -- Deb Caletti, author of the National Book Award nominee, Honey Baby Sweetheart
Taking a voyeuristic look at the crippling effects of depression, this powerful and realistic debut novel explores the lengths a family will go to in order to save one of its own, and the strength it takes to learn how to ask for help.
With his family, fifteen-year-old Billy struggles to help his father deal with a debilitating depression.
When his father's depression takes a frightening turn, Billy's entire family gets involved in caring for him, but with their mother's job on the line and the threat of suicide a constant factor in the home, Billy begins to realize that their father's best chance for recovery requires more intensive care than he and his siblings are able to provide.