Book Review: Goodbye Jamie Boyd by Elizabeth Fensham

Goodbye Jamie Boyd by Elizabeth Fensham

Title: Goodbye Jamie Boyd

Author: Elizabeth Fensham

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction/Books in Verse

Number of Pages: 88

Rating: C-

Recommended?: No

Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers

Skip this book and read Helicopter Man instead. Luckily this book was short, because the execution was lackluster and the portrayal of schizophrenia seemed highly suspect (I’m not an expert by any means, but it came off as very A Beautiful Mind-ish.) Anna is a teenage girl living in a tiny community in the Australian outback, who adores her dynamic but worryingly possessive old brother, Jamie. Except- Jamie died when he was a baby, and the imaginary person Anna is seeing is trying to convince her to do increasingly dangerous things.

When Anna goes on anti-psychotics she ‘kills’ Jamie and tries to have a normal life, which is easier said than done. From reading the set-up of this book, you’d think that finding out a beloved older sibling was a hallucination would be devastating. Not for Anna. She deals with the whole ‘your brother is dead’ thing in stride. The book puts a lot of focus on Anna bringing out her delusions because of using marijuana (and I understand that pot can be very dangerous for people who have the tendency to be schizophrenic) but how could it if she’s been having the same hallucinations for years?

Sometimes it felt like one long preachy anti-marijuana cautionary tale. Similarly unbelievable is the way Anna is so clearly sick but her parents never find out there’s something wrong with her. Confiding in them just doesn’t seem important to her, even though there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with them (other than being oblivious.) They don’t even know she’s on anti-psychotics even though she’s a minor and living in their house.

The book ends (not a moment too soon) with a melodramatic scene where Anna gives a speech about mental illness to her classmates and they stand up and cheer for her bravery. Except… didn’t Anna just tell them that she had cut up her arms because her imaginary brother told her to? Why aren’t these kids less inspired and more freaked the fuck out? In reality, she’d be more likely to be the subject of gossip and bullying than be lauded as a hero by a bunch of teenagers. I guess this book is obscure for a reason.

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