In England, Tamar is hospitalized after a suicide attempt, borderline personality disorder, possible psychosis and a history of self-injury following her best friend Iris’s suicide. Tamar thinks she murdered her friend, convinced her to jump into the river that took her life. In the psych hospital, she befriends other patients who have no interest in recovering from their various ailments (think Lisa from Girl Interrupted).
I had a difficult time caring about Tamar, because she purposely did not engage in treatment and lied to her doctor and nurses about almost everything. I understand resistance, but debut writer Ceylan Scott rarely showed Tamar work with, not against her psychiatrist. She accidentally is honest about her feelings, etc. Scott’s characters seemed straight out of central casting from every YA book set in a psych hospital as did the plot. The quality of the writing felt uninspired, not bad, just not special. The plot mirrored GIRL INTERRUPTED nearly identically.
Because Tamar was an unreliable narrator due to her particular mental health issues that included some delusions, I never felt like we had the full story about her friendship with Iris, the reliability of Mia and Iris’s suicide.
ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN adds nothing new or original to the spectrum of YA mental health books. I think it will speak to teens struggling. I do worry that some romancing of the psych hospital experience, not because ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN is all sunshine and roses, but because in this book, the difficulties feel more like escapades.