Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers on February 28th 2017
Perfect for fans of Finding Audrey and Everything, Everything, this is the poignant and uplifting story of Maeve, who is dealing with anxiety while falling in love with a girl who is not afraid of anything.
Think positive.Don’t worry; be happy.Keep calm and carry on.
Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.
Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I have so many conflicting thoughts on this one! 10 Things I Can See From Here follows Maeve, our protagonist, as she moves to Vancouver to live with her dad and his family for six months while her mom is away giving medical aid to people in need in Haiti. Maeve has severe anxiety, to the point where her constant imaginings of the myriad ways a given situation could go wrong inhibits her daily life and functioning. She consistently envisions the worst scenarios and can’t stop her mind from running over them again and again.
Let’s start with the thing I loved most about this book: the representation. As someone with multiple anxiety disorders, Maeve’s struggles with her anxiety hit extremely close to home for me. The author perfectly captured the way your brain races ten thousand miles a minute, the way anxiety invades your body like a poison to the point where it makes you physically ill. Maeve’s frequent panic attacks were all too familiar to me. Since the book is told through Maeve’s first person POV, the reader truly gets a glimpse into how her anxiety disorder affects every facet of her daily life. Her disorder in no way manifests itself in the exact same ways that mine does, but even so, I’ve never seen my own personal experiences with mental health captured so well in writing. Though, it was mentioned that Maeve’s parents both refused to let her try medication as a treatment option for her anxiety (even though Maeve herself is willing to try it if it will make her feel better). I understand that whether or not to take medication is completely a personal choice, but it bums me out when medication is dismissed so swiftly as a valid treatment option, because antidepressants have been an absolute gamechanger for me in managing my various anxiety disorders and my depression.
Maeve also happens to be a lesbian, and this book does feature an f/f relationship. I enjoyed the fact that this was not a “coming-out book;” all of the queer characters in 10 Things I Can See From Here are already out. Don’t get me wrong: coming out stories are incredibly important and vital and needed, but we as readers deserve ALL types of stories about people like us– and that includes stories about LGBTQIAP+ characters who are already out, accepted, and happily living their lives.
Speaking of which, I enjoyed the romance between Maeve and Salix. It felt simple, like it developed naturally and realistically. I was hesitant going into 10 Things I Can See From Here that the “girl-falls-in-love-and-BOOM-suddenly-her-problems-are-gone” trope would make an appearance, but I’m happy to report that wasn’t the case at all in this book. Salix as a character was pretty two-dimensional, but somehow it… worked? Possibly because the romance was not a main focus of the story? Regardless, I loved her commitment to music and her goals of being a professional classical musician. #relatable
Though I liked both Maeve and Salix, I don’t feel like I really got to *know* either of them, and the same goes for the other characters in the story. Every single side character felt verrrrry much like a filler. They seemingly only made appearances in the story as plot devices. And, like, there were just way too many side characters for such a short book. It almost felt like the author invented a random new character every time she was stuck as to how to further the plot of the novel.
The main problem I had with 10 Things I Can See From Here was the abrupt ending (longtime readers of the blog will know that this is maybe my number one bookish pet peeve). Really, only a few elements of the plot throughout the book felt like they wrapped up tidily by the end. I appreciated that Maeve was able to conquer her anxiety, at least for a moment, and accomplish a monumental task. This definitely showed her growth, but aside from that, there was absolutely no closure. Her relationships with her family and friends were pretty much left up in the air.
All in all, I think 10 Things I Can See From Here is a vastly important book, and I believe it provides excellent representation of anxiety disorders and of an f/f relationship. I’d love to see more YA books like this one with neurodiverse protagonists! Despite a few qualms I had with the story, I recommend this one to anyone who enjoys contemporaries or is looking for great mental health representation.
Have you read 10 Things I Can See From Here? If not, do you plan to? Let’s discuss!