Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu

Four Weeks, Five People

They're more than their problemsObsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she's okay.Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous.Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality.Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyon...

Title:Four Weeks, Five People
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0373212305
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:384 pages

Four Weeks, Five People Reviews

  • Girlwithapen93

    I was sucked into this book from the very first page. With well positioned and well written characters with lives described that made you believe that they were real kids with real mental health issues, who wouldn’t be sucked in? But it was the writing in the book that initially sucked me in and was the only thing that made me keep going back to the book. The first one hundred pages of this book are great, but then from the moment the five teenagers get to camp, it gets confusing. A group of tee

    I was sucked into this book from the very first page. With well positioned and well written characters with lives described that made you believe that they were real kids with real mental health issues, who wouldn’t be sucked in? But it was the writing in the book that initially sucked me in and was the only thing that made me keep going back to the book. The first one hundred pages of this book are great, but then from the moment the five teenagers get to camp, it gets confusing. A group of teenagers, with similar, not very well described different mental health illnesses and personality, go to New York to attend a wellness camp, four weeks of group and individual therapy for ill teens.

    But here lies the problem with the book: the story is being told from the five teenagers point of view, alternatingly. Every time the chapter changes you must think back to the character who is now talking and their mental illness in particular, to work out why they are acting and thinking the way that they are. It goes from one to another and the story continues but the issues don’t continue.

    The other main problem with this book is that it doesn’t allow for the situations to play out. During the camp, the teenagers are charged with creating a cubby house, a safe house, by the end of the book, is it made? Is it finished? Who knows because you don’t really find out. Then there is a major thing that happens which I won’t mention, although you might work it work halfway through the book if you see what is happening. This one event happens and from then on, it is like nothing else that was mentioned previously can be touched or mentioned again.

    The book doesn’t end, or it does but not properly enough to make it seem like it has finished. I liked this book initially and it took me a while to get through it because too much happens and as great as it is that there is a diverse young adult book that solely talks about teen mental health issues, I don’t think this one was done right.

    I give this book 2.5 out of 5 Booky Stars!

  • Lyla

    In general, I really liked this book. Although some reviewers found the "lack" of recovery to be problematic, I thought it was pretty realistic given the fact that these teens were only in this camp for four weeks. (You have to consider the fact that these teens's MIs developed over the course of more than a decade. Like all mental health treatment, a more realistic time frame for recovery would be at least several months if not years.)

    I think it was a pretty realistic portrayal of all the thin

    In general, I really liked this book. Although some reviewers found the "lack" of recovery to be problematic, I thought it was pretty realistic given the fact that these teens were only in this camp for four weeks. (You have to consider the fact that these teens's MIs developed over the course of more than a decade. Like all mental health treatment, a more realistic time frame for recovery would be at least several months if not years.)

    I think it was a pretty realistic portrayal of all the things that might go down in a camp like this. Sure, the relationship drama got kinda tiresome after a while but I could def see teens like Clarissa, Stella, and Ben getting into relationships because they finally found people that they can somewhat relate with, etc.

    The counselors kinda irked me but I appreciated that they were human and at least tried to help the teens (and lol not every counselor is good, let's be real.) They weren't reflective of the mental health professionals I've interacted with in the field when I was studying psych but I could see the possibility of some people being like that. Both of them had their (rare but still there) good moments, though.

    ***One final general note I'd like to make is a TW, esp for people listening to this on audiobook. As a person who has similar MI tendencies as the MCs, I found myself often triggered by the breakdowns and spiraling thoughts that the teens had, especially while listening to the narration. The writing was great and so was the narration (otherwise it wouldn't have been so effective lol) but I'd suggest just reading the book if you're afraid of being triggered.***

    Although some characters definitely made more progress than others, I think they all at least headed in the right direction. Here are my thoughts on the individual characters (feel free to stop reading if you want to avoid spoilers):

    Mason- A lot of people are complaining that he is still a douchebag and I agree but I think he

    was becoming more self conscious and/or started to actually think about what other people thought. A big issue of NPD is internal focus. No one matters except you. Although Mason did still have an egocentric view and lacked empathy, for sure, he at least was beginning to learn when he should shut up and was starting to pick up on behavioral/social cues. Yes, he is still a jerk but I thought Yu did a good job showing the beginning steps toward his "recovery" through the changes in his narration. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is one of the most difficult personality disorders to treat, though, (definitely one that takes like YEARS to change b/c you just have to undo so much social/behavioral conditioning, internal bias, etc.) so I wasn't surprised by his lack of "recovery" compared to others.

    Stella- Definitely made the most progress. I have a soft spot for cynical, sad girls who have to learn to open up and let themselves feel emotions (maybe because I am one, lol) so I was the most proud of her. I also liked how everyone thought she was crushing on Andrew (lol) but in the end, that didn't turn out to be true (like, she cared about Andrew but only because she could relate and considered him her friend...I also liked that Yu specifically had her make the effort to explain in her speech.) I also appreciated her emotional arc in opening up to everyone about Kevin, etc. Her backstory about her and Kevin was also very relatable.

    Andrew- I really did think the male ED perspective was definitely refreshing. I could relate with a lot of his ED thoughts/guilt/obsession with numbers on the scale. But I also felt that his obsession with his band was somewhat dated...I don't know any teens that are that obsessed with that genre in music in particular (emo/punk rock/etc) in 2017 (even the big bands are struggling to make a comeback rn...lol Linkin Park) so I didn't really find that to be realistic. I definitely did appreciate all the backstories about his shenanigans with his band members+friends, though. His backstory seemed the most organic. Although the way his arc ended was sad, I found myself saying "called it" tbh because Yu did a good job foreshadowing.

    Ben- I could definitely relate with his dissociative episodes. Found the format of his POV chapters a little eh towards the end, though, just because I come from a film background. I got the gist that he was basically narrating his own life but the voice over parts could have been more true to the format if that makes sense...especially if this is a kid who's as obsessed with film as he says he is. (I feel like I'm being more harsh on this than others though b/c I was once that kid who preferred reading/watching movies over confronting reality, lol.

    Clarissa- Also made a significant amount of progress. I really enjoyed her speech at the end and was proud of her for realizing the true purpose of the camp, etc. My only criticism is that her compulsions/obsessions kinda almost completely disappeared by the end of the book? And although this was def a good thing, I wasn't sure if this was realistic given the short time frame. HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME by Adam Silvera seemed to be a more realistic rep for OCD.

    All in all, I think it was a solid attempt at portraying five teens with their own mental illness/circumstances. Is it perfect? Nah. It's the author's first novel, though, so it is pretty impressive for a debut. But is it important? I think so. I definitely appreciated the author's attempts at humanizing these teens and the different realizations that the teens made at the end of the book about the nature of the camp, themselves, etc. We need more books like this.

  • Brooke

    One of my favorite themes in YA is the process of recovery. Count me in for characters with mental illnesses & various disorders- I'm all for MCs I can relate to & root for to heal. So naturally I was excited to read this, but unfortunately it fell short for me.

    The premise of FOUR WEEKS, FIVE PEOPLE had a couple of things going for it right off the bat. 1.) a male MC with anorexia (there needs to be more books that have males with eating disorders; there needs to be titles that shows th

    One of my favorite themes in YA is the process of recovery. Count me in for characters with mental illnesses & various disorders- I'm all for MCs I can relate to & root for to heal. So naturally I was excited to read this, but unfortunately it fell short for me.

    The premise of FOUR WEEKS, FIVE PEOPLE had a couple of things going for it right off the bat. 1.) a male MC with anorexia (there needs to be more books that have males with eating disorders; there needs to be titles that shows there is hope for them, too). 2.) a character with narcissistic personality disorder (I was so excited to see how this would play out because there isn't too many YA books with that theme, at least not that I'm aware of). Basically, I was hoping for a lot more substance than there actually was.

    The novel takes place during the four weeks the characters stay at Camp Ugunduzi. We have: Clarissa, who's obsessive-compulsiveness disorder allows her to find comfort in "safe numbers"; Andrew, who is trying to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band; Ben, who has pretty much checked out from reality & finds his safe haven in films; Mason, who is narcissistic & would rather be anywhere other than CU; Stella who is trying so hard not to feel & angry that she is attending camp for the second year in a row. The diversity of the characters makes it seem like this will be a worthy "recovery" read, but the overall execution & lack of character development made me frustrated & ultimately disappointed with the climax- at which point I felt didn't carry the full impact the author had likely intended.

    The biggest problem I had with this was the lack of "recovery". A lot of this book, between the dialogue to the multiple drinking situations (which is fine, if done to add to the story not subtract) made for so many fillers I honestly had such a difficult time finishing, only doing so because I wanted to see if any of the characters would show growth. (Spoiler: nada.) In many other books I've read with this theme there's a lot of MC/therapist back & forth type sessions. This may be cliched, but for the most part ends up working well. Readers can see an obvious difference between the MCs' beginning & end; it is easy to spot the growth & you feel like you learned something here. This was not the case for FWFP. There's no such sessions here, just group therapy (minus weekly weigh-ins & quick side chats) which again can work if done properly. Through these situations I didn't learn anything more about any character by the end than I did when first introduced to them in the early chapters. This left me severely underwhelmed. Why bother creating a story if there is no character growth?

    Another thing that really bothered me was the techniques shown to try to heal. Besides discussions of energy & "understanding begets understanding", there were really no effective methods used here. I'm actually surprised by the counselors because you could have fooled me- they didn't act like ones at all. Not having anything to take away from the four weeks spent at camp to use in your life really sucks. And of course the MCs (save one) come back home better (or at least, okay) & somehow equipped with the knowledge to make changes in their lives. Like, what? The turnover between week 1 to 4 felt incredibly unrealistic. I don't mean to sound rude, but there didn't seem to be enough of a struggle here to have the characters see their life as it is & to have the desire to change. I don't know if it's just me but it doesn't make sense. It's almost like the characters have their disorders written next to them, but it's not a part of them. None of the ideas & portrayals are fully flushed out, making it seem like the author just went through a checklist. I HATE when that happens.

    The premise ideas that had me excited just left me angry by the turn of the last page. Mason went in an asshole & came out one. Nothing was done to try to help him- so why the hell was he there, other than spew out hurtful comments? I wish Andrew's anorexia was more touched upon; in my opinion he was the character that needed to have the biggest role & just fell to the side. Ugh. The ONLY thing I liked here was Stella's statements about falling in love will not stop your disorder, will not make you better all of a sudden. That cannot be said enough.

    It hurts my heart to give this such a low rating, especially since there was such a great potential to help readers, but this was so mediocre & didn't bring anything new to the table. Considering that this is Yu's debut & how difficult it is to write anything at all, I feel more comfortable giving this 2*, although it is logically more closer to 1 for me. I can't attest to whether I'll read any of her future works. I can think of several other YA novels I'd recommend before this one, including HOW IT FEELS TO FLY & PAPERWEIGHT. I wish this had been more enjoyable instead of a read I would have rather just skipped.

    *I received an ARC from Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest & unbiased review. Thank you!*

  • Phelicity

    This book is so important and everything I hoped it to be. I was hooked from the moment I first read the synopsis many months ago. It was one of my favorite and highly anticipated reads of 2017. I am a huge advocate for mental health and spreading awareness about the reality of the various afflictions. I loved this book because of the reality and diversity shown through the different voices and the different fonts used to distinguish and represent the characters (which is one of the best ideas/f

    This book is so important and everything I hoped it to be. I was hooked from the moment I first read the synopsis many months ago. It was one of my favorite and highly anticipated reads of 2017. I am a huge advocate for mental health and spreading awareness about the reality of the various afflictions. I loved this book because of the reality and diversity shown through the different voices and the different fonts used to distinguish and represent the characters (which is one of the best ideas/features I have ever come across). Each character portrayed a particular view of their affliction that may have other wise slipped through the cracks of society. I am so excited and grateful to Jennifer Yu for daring to write something so real and so compelling while also giving a voice to those who otherwise feel drowned out. I cannot fully articulate how this book makes me feel! I will recommend this book as a must read until I am blue in the face. One of my top books of all time! Great job Jennifer!

  • Taneika

    Put simply, Four Weeks, Five People follows five teenagers attending a summer wilderness therapy camp. Stella has severe depression, Andrew has anorexia, Clarissa has OCD and anxiety, Mason has Narcisstic Personality Disorder, and Ben has Depersonalisation disorder (and I think he also has Bipolar disorder, although I can't be sure

    Put simply, Four Weeks, Five People follows five teenagers attending a summer wilderness therapy camp. Stella has severe depression, Andrew has anorexia, Clarissa has OCD and anxiety, Mason has Narcisstic Personality Disorder, and Ben has Depersonalisation disorder (and I think he also has Bipolar disorder, although I can't be sure!). Having only suffered Depression myself and having not dealt with any of the other disorders represented in the book, I can't speak for the representation, however I felt all of it was handled sensitively, realistically and mental illness in this book was NOT romanticised (yay!)

    Four Weeks, Five People was SO EASY to read! While I *technically* started this book at the end of April, I really didn't have time to read at the time, so when I picked it up again, I read the entire book in almost one day. No joke, I read about 150 pages in one sitting and it felt like no time had gone by at all, it was completely unputdownable and each of the characters had me entirely captivated.

    As there are five viewpoints, I was admittedly a little worried at first, however Jennifer Yu did a wonderful job of making each character's voice unique and I found it easy to switch between characters as frequently as the book did. Each chapter was incredibly quick/easy to read and I enjoyed almost everyone's point of view (except for Mason, who I just did not like in general).

    I absolutely adored the rest of the characters and I found Stella to be particularly refreshing as she was so outspoken, snarky and generally pissed off at the world. Admittedly, Stella did say some pretty shitty/offensive things, they were quickly challenged by other characters in text which I REALLY appreciated, and despite being incredibly stubborn, Stella was incredibly understanding of others and apologised when she messes up.

    Andrew was probably my other favourite character and I wanted to hug him/be his friend so badly. We see the very beginning of his eating disorder recovery and while I've never had an eating disorder, it felt authentic and was incredibly emotional to read (I admit, most of my tears were caused by Andrew).

    As this is a book about recovery, I wasn't too sure what to expect because let's be real, recovery doesn't just happen in four weeks or less. It's a long road, full of ups and downs and you might have lots of good days, but also just as many bad days. It's not straightforward, and as someone who considers themselves recovered from depression, my mental health is still something I work at EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. This book didn't try and pretend the characters would be 100% better by the end, it's repeatedly drilled into you that four weeks is NOT a very long period of time and I was completely okay with this! If you're expecting a shit tonne of character development or recovery from them in Four Weeks, Five People, you'll be disappointed. The characters certainly experience growth and learn things, but at the end of the day, they are still all in recovery and this therapy camp just happens to be a part of their recovery, not the end of it.

    There was also a little bit of romance, which while I was okay with, I'm glad it didn't overshadow everything else. As a result of said romance, there's also a big part where Stella basically says romance is not a cure for mental illness and you shouldn't rely on romance to help you. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS PART??? I was half cheering her on when she was saying this (although a lot of what Stella says comes across as an attack, I STILL LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS - also Stella is still pretty awesome in general tbh)

    While I loved this book overall, I do wish we got to see some things from other people's perspectives, instead of seeing certain events unfold from another's eyes (I won't go into detail, because spoilers!). However, I think this just made me want more from the story as a whole and I'd love to read the backstories (or futures) of a lot of the characters because I felt so attached to them!

    Four Weeks, Five People at it's core is a story about recovery and all that can encompass it. Beautifully written with memorable characters, I absolutely loved this book so incredibly much and flew through it in a day.

  • Tova

    Okay, I'd first like to thank my local bookstore for providing me with an ARC. It's my first one, and I don't care that this book came out two months. I'm probably going to start getting arcs from them regularly.

    It really bothers me that on the back cover it spells Clarissa. But in the chapters it spell is Clarisa. That could just be a major typo error since this is an arc. But it really bugs me. And I'm not OCD. Which is kind of ironic considering Claris(s?)a is the character with OCD.

  • Stacy Fetters

    This was labeled as one of the summers top reads and I'm trying to figure out why!? The synopsis is a y.a.'s wet dream and it was extremely hard to make a connection. The stor

    This was labeled as one of the summers top reads and I'm trying to figure out why!? The synopsis is a y.a.'s wet dream and it was extremely hard to make a connection. The story was slow moving with characters that were very stereotyped and cry-babyish. I don't see myself recommending this to anyone.

    Five teens come together for four weeks at a wilderness therapy summer camp. They all have their own problems that they are all trying to overcome. With each chapter we get the separate views of each individual character as you learn why they are really at this camp.

    Clarissa is obsessive compulsive, Mason believes everyone is an idiot but him, Ben would rather live in a fictional world, Andrew has an eating disorder which he thinks ruined his chance at his band becoming big and Stella is the bitch of the group who has trust issues.

    Some of these teens has more bigger issues than the other, but they all know that they need help. With a set schedule they will be able to better handle their situation while also breaking some of the rules.

    Will this camp help them overcome their illnesses to have a better life and have a better outlook to the future?

    I liked the idea of this camp who helps teens deal with their issues. It's unique compared to all the other mental health ya books out in the world, but I couldn't look past the darkness of most of the characters. They tried a little bit too hard to come off as rule breaking. I didn't see the point of that.

    The only character that I felt was genuine was Andrew. His story was the most heartbreaking out of them all and I hope she furthers his story.

    The cover is very appealing, but I'm confused by the blandness of the title. I'm sure if she put more thought into it she could have come up with a better title.

    Disappointing!

  • L-J Lacey

    The trope du jour seems to be mental health. "Four Weeks, Five People" fits very nicely into this category as it is about five teenagers sent away to Camp Ugunduzi (in New York) for the summer. This camp is for mentally ill teens to help them deal with (and possibly overcome) their mental health issues while enjoying a recreational summer holiday.

    The story is told from the perspective of all five protagonists - Clarissa, Andrew, Ben, Mason and Stella. They each have their own issues and all they

    The trope du jour seems to be mental health. "Four Weeks, Five People" fits very nicely into this category as it is about five teenagers sent away to Camp Ugunduzi (in New York) for the summer. This camp is for mentally ill teens to help them deal with (and possibly overcome) their mental health issues while enjoying a recreational summer holiday.

    The story is told from the perspective of all five protagonists - Clarissa, Andrew, Ben, Mason and Stella. They each have their own issues and all they have in common is that they have been assigned to the same cabin. Over the course of the four weeks they are all affected by the camp and each other; some of them come to terms with their illness and how they can live with it, and one of them doesn't change at all.

    What Jennifer Yu has done with this book is focus on mental illness. Not as a quirk of the character, not to move the story along, but she truly focus on a major issue in today's society - a topic that is still seen as shameful and needing to be hidden. Books such as this open conversations that need to be had and can help teenagers (and adults alike) experience mental health issues and/or help them know that they are not alone.

    Books like this should be compulsory on reading lists in my humble opinion.

    Warning: does contain attempted suicide (not graphic) and mentions sex and binge drinking.

    Danielle

    Independent Children's Bookshop

Top Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. We uses Search API to find the overview of books over the internet, but we don't host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners, please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them. Read our DMCA Policies and Disclaimer for more details.