“You like to act as if you care about nothing and if you carry on like that then you’re going to drown in the abyss you have imagined for yourself.”
In this book we follow a sixteen year old girl named Victoria (aka Tori).
Tori is the girl who makes up a lot of stuff inside her head, and then gets sad about it. She’s a girl who battles with herself every single day to stay awake. To stay alive.
On her first day back at school Tori follows some notes which lead her to a computer room where stuck to a screen the final note reads ‘SOLITAIRE.CO.UK.’
Tori doesn’t know what it means, and she doesn’t care. Truly. However, someone else followed the notes too. Michael Holden, and he does care. He wants to find out more.
Things start happening around school. Harmless pranks, all signed by Solitaire. Soon enough the pranks escalate. Tori doesn’t know what they’re trying to do or achieve but she wants no part of it. And she definitely wants nothing to do with Michael Holden.
This was very difficult to give a synopsis, because the blurb on the book itself gives little away about the story.
I believe I enjoyed this story.
I saw someone say that they don’t believe this story is written for happy people, and honestly that resonates with me. A lot of this story resonates with me.
Tori is not a happy person. Though it isn’t explicitly stated, it is indicated that she is dealing with undiagnosed depression.
Some might feel that Tori’s constant wails that no-one understands her are melodramatic teenage angst but honestly, most of the people surrounding Tori truly doesn’t seem to understand. Her mother doesn’t seem to care about anything other than her work, her father tells her she’s not trying, her teacher tells her to snap out of it.
It’s clear that very few people know how to recognise depression, and those who do sadly don’t know how to handle it.
Tori is slipping away through most of this book. She’s spiralling and God I feel for her. I believe anyone who’s dealt with depression or other mental health issues likely does because we’ve been there. Not wanting to get out of bed. Always wanting to sleep. Sleeping means we don’t have to get up and face the day. Face the people who care about us, who inadvertently smother us when we’re already overwhelmed, or even face ourselves.
While Tori is sixteen, depression and anxiety and mental health issues can occur at any age. And no-one knows how one might deal with it when faced with that situation.
“Just because someone smiles doesn’t mean that they’re happy.”
In regards to the story of Solitaire, the prank-pulling group – there was intrigue there however, the answers to the mystery felt pretty clear early on. Perhaps this is because this is Alice Osemans debut novel at seventeen. It was interesting, but it wasn’t the main pull of the story for me.
Something I felt could have been left out was that the characters sometimes did things which felt a bit off. Bursting into maniacal laughter. Constantly running away. Shouting random phrases at the top of their lungs. The ending too felt a little like an attempt to bring about a dramatic finish to the story.
It was all fine. It didn’t take away from the story itself, it just threw me off a little. The rest of the story felt so raw in comparison. A rawness I haven’t felt in a story since We Are Okay by Nina LaCour or Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia.
That rawness is what pulled me in, and it’s what kept me.
“Just because something doesn’t matter doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.”