Adolescence Interrupted- A Review
By: Mia Manning
Written by Blair Patrick Schuyler, Adolescence Interrupted can be best described as a memoir of a man's coming of age life-story as he struggles with his own health issues. The novel begins with the day in which eighth grader, Blair Schuyler is diagnosed with a condition called ‘hydrocephalus’, ultimately changing his life forever. This novel then goes on to follow him through high school, college, and further, explaining not only the medical abnormalities he faced, but the difficulty he had transitioning into new environments.
As this novel chooses to follow Schuyler throughout his life, the reader is acquainted with many various characters, some of which are not overly important in the scheme of storytelling. Due to this, the novel sometimes feels jumbled, leaving the reader confused as to ‘who’s who’ and where they rank on the list of importance. The inclusion of these characters could have been easier if the novel was longer in length, however, as the novel is relatively short, there isn’t the space allotted for easy transitions and smooth descriptions. Ultimately, this hinders the readers ability to build relationships with the other ‘major’ and ‘minor’ characters in his life, or generally learn about their demeanor, especially as the novel has so little dialogue. This is perhaps because it is written in the style of a memoir, but still nonetheless holds the novel back and should be noted for those who enjoy being knowledgeable on how other characters act.
The portions of the novel are also strange and lacking in proper transition. Schuyler starts his novel by talking about his medical experiences, and follows through with that method until about halfway through-, then shifting to rather focus on his college experience and adult life. While this isn’t unexpected, the way in which it is told is unpleasant due to the inconstancy in tone. The tension and interest the reader has gained about his medical experience is thrown to the side, and isn’t talked about again for a considerable amount of time. This could’ve been avoided had a shift between tones been initiated through actual prose, allowing the reader to know what to expect. Instead, this part of the novel is haphazardous and confusing. Trying to follow the story, as well as keep up with characters and guess what is next to come becomes grueling instead of enticing. The transitions are so odd that one often finds themselves turning back pages and rereading paragraphs to make sure they have a proper understanding. Despite this, it’s obvious Schuyler has a creative talent when it comes to writing, as his sentence structure itself is impeccable. Many beautiful quotes are embedded within this novel, and help make the reader think about life and one’s own vulnerability, as any novel with medical anomalies will. This is also what makes one want to keep turning pages. Sadly, this novel still feels more like a diamond in the rough, and shouldn’t be recommended to someone who wants a deeply intricate novel with an overall firm writing technique.
Because Schuyler’s health is quite easily the ‘center’ of this story, medical terminology is frequently used throughout, in an effort to help the reader understand what exactly is going on inside his brain, body, and so on. Schuyler often switches between explaining what the terminology means to then explaining the actual events that occurred during this time period. While this is understandable, and most of the time appreciated as the novel runs onwards, it sometimes feels as if the reader is being treated like a child, one who’s being spoken to in a condescending tone. The natural writing ability that is displayed in this novel doesn’t mend this issue, as natural talent can only go so far. Sometimes during these moments it feels as if Schuyler is having a hard time switching between simple and complex sentences, trying to find a balance that allows him to explain these events both intelligently and accurately, but the balance is simply not found. This could be a general turn-off for some readers, and thus should not be taken lightly.
‘Adolescence Interrupted’ is a painfully okay novel. The potential for a superb story lies within it, but is bogged down with somewhat simple mistakes. Perhaps a good read for those interested in the medical world, or those wanting to learn about this specific condition for personal reasons, but ultimately lack luster for others. Beneath all of the issues-, however, the painful, bittersweet story of how a boy turned into a man because his body turned on himself is all too real and reminds one to be appreciative of their health and quality of life.