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Me, Myself and Ike Paperback – Oct 1 2009
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Quill & Quire
A first-person narrative of a mentally ill adolescent has to be one of the most difficult feats to execute successfully. Mark Haddon pulled it off in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and though she does so with a lot less humour, B.C. author K.L. Denman follows in his footsteps with her latest novel. Me, Myself and Ike is the gut-wrenching story of Kit Latimer and his descent into the paranoia, delusions, and self-harm that accompanies the onset of schizophrenia. Convinced by “Ike,” the voice inside his head, that he can preserve his dead body in the frozen mountains of Vancouver Island, Kit plans an intricately detailed suicide mission. He believes that his frozen corpse, in addition to his manifesto and various “artifacts” (a Blackberry, junk food, illegal drugs, condoms, etc.) will educate future civilizations about their past. Bizarre? Yes. But we follow Kit’s every rationalization and quite simply believe that he believes. This inside view of the disease feels incredibly authentic. Denman seamlessly transitions from Kit’s own thoughts to his interactions with “Ike,” his memories of a healthier time, and excerpts from his increasingly incoherent writings. The fact that Denman exhibits such flexibility within the confines of a first-person narrative, while also maintaining the reader’s feelings of empathy for Kit, is an undeniable accomplishment. While the writing is seamless, the subject matter is challenging. Given that Kit is seriously ill from page one, readers are spared any introductory fluff or a description of the protagonist’s painfully slow deterioration. In one particularly cringe-worthy scene, Kit attacks a fresh tattoo with a loofah and scalding hot water to prevent “nano-robots” from entering his brain. However, Denman’s controlled style saves the story from tumbling into the melodramatic or the senselessly explicit. The most upsetting parts of the story do not lie in these graphic moments, but in watching an engaging protagonist slip away into mental illness. Completely riveting, suspenseful, and heartbreaking, Me, Myself and Ike is one of the best young adult releases of the year.
"An intensely edgy, first person account of a troubled teen descending into a paranoid, psychotic state...Denman is a responsible, caring, and skilled writer who drops subtle breadcrumbs throughout her story and provides an afterword explaining this mental illness...Denman is to be commended for tackling this issue straight on. Highly Recommended." (CM Magazine 2009-09-04)
"A stark and fascinating portrait of a paranoid and delusional teenager…Denman deftly gets into the head of a mentally unwell teenager while telling a coherent, engaging story." (Publishers Weekly 2009-10-01)
"The fact that Denman exhibits such flexibility within the confines of a first-person narrative, while also maintaining the reader's feelings of empathy for Kit, is an undeniable accomplishment. While the writing is seamless, the subject matter is challenging...Completely riveting, suspenseful, and heartbreaking, Me, Myself and Ike is one of the best young adult releases of the year." (Quill & Quire 2009-11-01)
"While the story is about a young man with a mental illness, it is also a well-told, readable mystery, brimming with suspense. An author's note giving details about schizophrenia adds an additional level of clarity to the novel's ending." (School Library Journal 2009-12-01)
"This harrowing journey through the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic never hits a wrong note. Especially laudable is Denman's ruthless adherence to Kit's point of view…Demonstrating a powerful control over her prose, Denman builds Kit's decline in subtle increments that ramp up the suspense as readers note each new failing…Try this one with readers who like their stories dark and intense." (VOYA 2009-12-01)
"Denman has done her homework in this novel. She does not waver from Kit's point of view, not an easy task when the main character's thinking is so disturbed....A compelling novel of a young man's descent into schizophrenia. Highly recommended." (Resource Links 2009-10-01)
"[This] harsh and oppressive teenage novel makes readers share the experiences of Kit as he looses touch with the real world around him and slips deeper into his illness." (The White Ravens 2010 2010-04-01)
"Readers looking for suspense and adventure will certainly find it here. I believe Me, Myself and Ike presents a well-researched glimpse into mental illness, and would recommend it for older teens." (What If? Magazine 2010-05-24)
"This expertly crafted novel delves into the sensitive topic of mental illness while maintaining a story that is both touching and tragic." (Canadian Children's Book News 2010-01-01)
"A gripping novel full of surprises. K.L. Denman's masterfully-crafted first-person narrative on schizophrenia sweeps the reader along...Denman manages to portray Kit in a way that is both realistic and sympathetic." (Governor General's Literary Awards committee 2010-10-13)
"A powerful novel about the onset of mental illness." (Prairie books NOW 2010-08-01)
"A heartbreaking look at the effects of indiagnosed schizophrenia...Recommended for school libraries where mental health issues are studied." (TriState YA Book Review 2010-03-01)
"Denman illustrates her knowledge of the disease through the compelling portrait she paints of Kit losing touch with reality...An informative afterward addresses signs of schizophrenia and notes the challenges of living with the disease." (Puget Sound Council 2010-09-01)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As we first meet Kit Latimer in a trailer park in British Columbia, known as the good kid around town, This was the way that others thought of Kit, throughout the book others noticed it was Kit that caused them to change their perceptions on just about everything. Kit started to skip school and try to run away. Kit slowly isolates himself from everything and anyone except his only friend, his best friend Ike. People start to suspect that Kit was up to something. Then everything changes.
This book should be read because of the very interesting plot line that goes on. Kit is your average teenage boy, he got along with his parents, did well in school, had a girlfriend, life was pretty great. Then one day things started to change. He was not doing well at school he lost all of his friends except for Ike, he was starting to get really depressed, constantly getting into fights with mostly his mother. Kit’s parents started to get very concerned and thought he should go to the doctor. Of course that was a fight to get Kit to even go to to the doctor, they then discover that Kit has schizophrenia. His parents really don’t know what to do except keep him on the medication that the doctor prescribed. Kit refuses to take them until his mother gets into a fight, he realizes that he creating much more trouble than he needs to be. His mother frustrated and just gives up. Kit sees that and realizes he needs to change.
“The enormity of this realization washes over me in cold waves. It’s down to just me, maybe Ike too, but thats another thing, I haven't heard from Ike since the day we took the Blackberry, maybe he was caught and I am on my own.” -Kit (98). This is the day that everything changes, Kit was upset that he thought he was losing a friend when Kit and Ike got into a fight right before their adventure had even begun. Ike leaves Kit at the bus stop just before the bus came for them to go on their adventure. While on the bus Kit was really thinking if he should do this or not, he had no idea what stop to get off at. He was all alone, just him and his tent. Camped up near a gas station, on a cold winter night. “I can’t do this anymore, it’s too much.”- Kit (131). This is a quote that explains what Kit was thinking right after he got attacked by a bear because he had food left out food outside his tent. This was not the smartest think that he could have done. That is why he was thinking he can’t do this if his trip already started our this bad there was no way he was going to make it through a whole month like this. He then calls his mother and tells her to come get him. His mother was having mixed emotions at the time but knew that it was right for her to go pick up Kit. When Kit gets home he does some deep thinking about his life. He realizes he needs to make a change because were it is headed with his family is not down a good path. He apologizes to his parents, and starts to take his medication. After taking his medication for a few weeks he starts to see a change in himself, his parents are proud along with Kit. Both of his parents are still worried about Kit though because they don’t want him to go down on a bad path again now that he has started to make changes in his life. They don’t know what to expect from kit since he has schizophrenia and some days it can be good and others it can be horrifying.
This story is an easy read as far as pages, and words on a page, as far as the material it is not easy to read about because of the subject matter, reading about Kit’s paranoia, delusions, and plans to commit suicide in a way can be upsetting or hard to understand at times. Kit is unaware of what he is really thinking and experiencing is difficult to really understand as to why is he acting this way or that way and why does he think these types of things. What I really love about the book is that K.L. Denman did an amazing job at describing all aspects of what Kit’s experience really was, while reading it I can picture what is going on in Kit’s mind, his thinking, and reasoning. Denman crafted a story that will really make the reader realize the difficulties and hardships families face with children or relatives with mental disorders.
Fortunately, for both Kit and the reader, the book is really about much more than this moronic scheme. As we follow Kit through his preparations, we begin to see that perhaps all is not what it seems. Through his interactions with others, we learn that Kit used to be a good kid - he had friends, got along well with his family, did reasonably well in school. But a few months before the start of the action, everything changes. We get a sense of this only in the way that others react to Kit, but this is a startlingly effective method of portraying this change. Throughout the book, we also get a feel for what others noticed in Kit that caused them to change their perceptions, although, in a first-person narrative, the changes are only subtly observable to the reader. It isn't until almost the end of the book that we begin to understand what is really going on with Kit, and how dangerous it potentially is.
FTC disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.