This is immaculate writing and is spiced with nice comic touches. James is eighteen and full of angst. His family includes his mother who is both passionately mother-like and mostly indifferent outside times of crisis, and his father, divorced from his mother, who hasn’t much of a clue. And a brightly cosmopolitan and annoying New York sister. And a magical grandmother. James has had a history of therapy, anxiety, anti-social behavior, and signs of what would probably be called neurodivergence. If the writing were not strong this would feel about as thin as it sounds, and at times it is exactly as thin as that. It is a book that I expect people going through this kind of depression and struggle will appreciate. I did appreciate most of it, especially the therapy scenes, which have a very real tone, though there is the choice of having James resist the therapy and try to see through it and that becomes the weakest part of the book, for me, not the therapy itself but James’s waffling between doing the work and outsmarting the work. But of course he has to do that or else there would be no drama. Then there is the stalking and abortive attempt to make a connection with a coworker which is the best drama in the book. Despite these quibbles the novel is strong and works but comes the end and suddenly the problems either stop or simply submerge into the present and James’s struggle, which is whether to go to Brown University or not, ends, and we learn in a chapter after a time interval, that there he is, at Brown. Not that all his problems are solved or that this is a happy ending. It is that kind of ending that is more enigma than not. The problem with this is that the book feels as if it simply stops. And there is this reaction I had, which is unfair, but I had it anyway. Here is this privileged kid moping about whether he should attend one of the best schools in the country when there are kids all over the place dying for a spot in a school like that and actually suffering with external trauma that makes James’s problems feel trivial. Like I said, it’s not a fair reaction but it’s a real one. But this is a really good writer whom I would read again.