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Stephanie Perkins
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M.J. Hearle
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The Shiny Guys - Doug MacLeod Wonderfully written story that is different, twisted and full of humour, but is still serious with the issues at hand (ECT and mental illnesses).-------What is there for me to say about this book without repeating myself due to its brilliance? This review is quite hard to write as it’s one of those books that gives you an appreciation for many things. As I am studying Psychology and have looked into mental illnesses and know how it’s like and how someone can act and experienced it children with them first-hand, it just makes this less of a review but more so praise for Doug MacLeod – for writing a story directed at young adults, dealing with such a difficult subject as this. And Doug does it with such skill that you don’t find yourself reading from the perspective of someone who is depressed, or has anorexia, or a development disorder. You read it as though they’re like every other normal person with big dreams, hopes, and ambitions – just with an unlucky streak. Reading The Shiny Guys is a breather from the shelves of and countless other young adult books today.Now, don’t think this book is a ‘breather’ literally. Colin our main character does not give you much of a chance to take a breath with his never-ending playful jokes and his witty and jesting narration, even through the highs and lows, the dips and falls, in the book. Although Colin has had a traumatic experience not long ago (which you will learn of when you read) and finds himself in this psychiatric ward Ward 44, and surrounded by all these other patients – some he likes and some he despises – he doesn’t stop with the jokes, even in his one-on-one meetings with his psychiatrist/doctor. This is another reason why I could praise Doug MacLeod to no end (and it’s very hard to explain why right now so I’m just going to sit on this and think about it more, so that I can put it in a meaningful and comprehendible sentence). But a passage I thought could encapsulate what I could want to say is:That night, I feel uplifted by the new focus in my life. When we are all gathered in the dining room, I tell everyone that before we eat I would like to say grace. Patients look surprised. Val thinks this is a lovely idea. I close my eyes, clasp my hands and recite with quiet dignity:‘While shepherds watched their flocks by nightAll seated on the grass,The angel of the Lord came downAnd kicked them up the arse. Amen.’Mango and Anthea burst out laughing. Even apologetic Jill cracks a smile. Val and Len, who sit together, are clearly not amused. Val tells me that there will be a day of judgement, and I won’t let be let into heaven. This is fine by me. The place is probably full of reformed alcoholics. [p.111-112]Now this may not be funny, but it sure does show how much Colin loves to joke around and make fun of those patients he doesn’t enjoy being around – Val is one of them, a woman who is heavily religious but is an alcoholic. There’s your background information .Every now and then though we also get a type of Q&A between Anthea – the young girl with anorexia – and her doctor, giving us a path to fully recognise and learn Anthea’s predicament, and also we get a couple chapters from Mango’s point-of-view that are expressed differently. Mango’s narration is full of spelling mistakes as if it’s that way he would spell it, and although he is around the same age as both Anthea and Colin, he has developmental problems which affects the way in which he communicates and deals with the world around him and the people who he is with. These chapters could be the ‘breathers’ from Colin’s.Within Ward 44 we see a crush develop into a severe infatuation which doesn’t turn out the way Mango had wanted it to. We see evil cockroaches – the shiny guys – inhabit Colin’s reality and his quest by the human-sized cockroaches called Nestorians to eradicate them. And we see Anthea try and defeat those shadows lurking near her, within her. All in all, it’s about discovering the truth and not hiding behind your own self-created lies. Something we must all learn in ourselves and which many people with disabilities of all kinds can do so much better at than those that don’t.You should all read this.