Title: THE ART OF INSANITY
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction - OwnVoices
Word Count: 77,000
Is Your Main Character hot or cold?
Natalie has bipolar disorder, so she knows both hot and cold very well. She’s suffered through the dark wasteland of depression, which taught her that a cold brain is infinitely worse than a cold body. She’s also known mania when her brain is hot – white hot – and she is completely unstoppable. To know the temperature of someone with bipolar disorder, it depends when you ask. Today, on the verge of having her story told, she’s hot.
Sun vs. Snow,
The car accident last summer wasn’t an accident. Natalie, a high-school senior, will do anything to keep her suicide attempt (and her bipolar disorder diagnosis) a secret. But the one person at school who knows the truth blackmails her, and the complications from keeping her secret are distracting Natalie from what is most important to her: her art.
Natalie has always used art to cope – to cope with the fact that her dad died when she was a toddler, to cope with her delusional panic attacks, and now to cope with the fact that some doctors have labeled her “crazy.” Her talent is about to upgrade from being a coping skill to being a money maker if she can win the biggest art show of her life and secure a college scholarship.
When her secret is spilled at school, people start treating her differently. She’s not sure which she hates more: the reactions of curious fear or of pity. In her frustration, Natalie denies the rumors about her mental illness so well that even she starts believing her story. The doctors must have gotten the diagnosis wrong. She decides to stop taking her medications.
Once she’s off her meds, the symptoms return. A manic episode puts her scholarship in jeopardy with almost no time left before the art show. She fights her brain to prove that she can be okay on her own, but she will need self-acceptance to be successful in the end.
This novel is Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story meets Amy Zhang’s Falling Into Place.
First 250 words:
The car accident last summer wasn’t an accident.
Secrets have weight, and that one’s heavy. It’s not the fun kind of secret for late-night sleepovers or hallway gossip. It’s the dark kind of secret that is kept in shadows, and I spend my days making sure it never comes into the light.
I step out of my new-to-me Toyota Camry and run my fingertips along the metallic silver of the fender. I won’t let anything happen to this car. I grab my backpack and head across the parking lot to my last first day of school. Do I look like a senior? I don’t feel like a senior.
The purple Barney keychain on my backpack clinks against the zipper. When I was five years old I got that keychain, and I was so happy that I held it up and said, “I love this keychain so much that I will keep it on my backpack forever and ever and ever!”
“You’ll lose it in a week,” said my older brother. We constantly try to prove each other wrong, and I’m winning this one.
My new blue shirt matches my eyes, and I’m hoping people will notice that instead of my slight limp. People say I have beautiful eyes. I’m wearing jeans and old tennis shoes because I don’t want anyone looking at my legs – or my limp. Look at my eyes, people! Remember how beautiful my eyes are?
I take a deep breath and walk into the school.