Hey, guys! I am so freaking excited to come at you with a review of a book that has definitely worked its way onto my All Time Favorites list. Definitions of Indefinable Things really sheds a realistic, but entertaining, light on depression. Sprinkled with humor all throughout it, I can positively say that I laughed my ass off reading this. It was hilarious, relatable and absolutely fantastic. I flew through this book, and I definitely recommend it. But let’s go ahead and get into the review!
“This heartbreaking, humorous novel is about three teens whose lives intersect in ways they never expected.
Reggie Mason is all too familiar with “the Three Stages of Depression.” She believes she’s unlocked the secret to keeping herself safe: Nobody can hurt you if you never let them in.
Reggie encounters an unexpected challenge to her misanthropy: a Twizzler-chomping, indie film-making narcissist named Snake. Snake’s presence, while reassuring, is not exactly stable—especially since his ex-girlfriend is seven months pregnant. As Reggie falls for Snake, she must decide whether it’s time to rewrite the rules that have defined her.”
Wow, this book was hilarious and the most relatable book I have ever read.
This book, if you didn’t know, focuses heavily on depression, and it actually presents it in a very honest and relatable way. But this book was not just doom and gloom. It is possibly the funniest book I have ever read in my life. And it’s just random funny moments that have literally made me laugh out loud. I lost count of the number of times I LOL’d. Just to give you an example of how funny this book really is, there was a scene where Reggie had to go on a rollercoaster, and she is deathly afraid of heights (another relatable thing; I am deathly afraid of heights as well. Like, its bad. I freak out if I am at the top of bleachers.), so naturally she was trying to stay calm and not freak out. And there is one point where she talks about how she is feeling and doing, and this is what it was:
“The remainder of the ride was a haze of track, sky and terrified screaming. I even swallowed my gum on one of the coaster loops. That was pretty memorable. Memorable because I was choking for the last few seconds of the ride and prayed my mother’s infamous Jesus-take-the-wheel plea before I realized I would, in fact, live.”
It was just a random moment when she was talking about what she was thinking and doing, and I just burst into uncontrollable laughter. And that happens all the time throughout the course of the book. Like, it was absolutely hilarious to me. And it kind of sounded like something I would be doing, to be completely honest.
Moving onto the relatable factor, this book, unlike many other books about depression, presents a character who has no trigger. In pretty much every other book about depression, the character always is triggered by something for depression. And this time, there was a character who had no trigger at all. And that is exactly like me. I have no trigger for my depression. It is just something I have been struggling with for my entire life. In one scene, Reggie and Snake are talking about depression and their experiences with it. At one point, Reggie asks Snake how he knew he was depressed. Snake’s response is singlehandedly the most relatable thing I have ever read. He said:
“How does anyone know they’re depressed? You feel equally alive and dead and have no idea how that’s even possible. And everything around you doesn’t seem so full anymore. And you can’t tell if the world is empty or you are. That’s how I knew. I realized it wasn’t the world that was empty.”
That just was so relatable to me because that perfectly described my experiences with depression. That is exactly how I feel because as you may or may not know, I have been suffering from depression for most of my life. And this was the first time that a book had a character who was not triggered. Is it important that we see characters that do have triggers? Oh, definitely yes. There are definitely people out there who do experience triggers with depression. But it is also very important to have characters who don’t have a trigger because there are definitely some people that have never had a trigger. It is definitely very important to show both sides of depression because everyone experiences depression differently, and that should definitely be portrayed more in literature.
But let’s go ahead and get into the characters because they all went through a tremendous amount of development over the course of the story. Reggie definitely went through a shit ton of character development. At the beginning of the story, Reggie is this super cynical and sarcastic (okay, she still is cynical and sarcastic at the end) girl who did not get close to anyone and chose to feel nothing because, in her mind, that was just easier because feelings got you hurt. By the end of the book, she slowly starts to realize that while she acted like she didn’t care at all for people, she actually has a really big heart and cares so deeply that she is concerned she cares too much. She just goes through a tremendous amount of character development, and it was actually really beautiful to witness. Also, she was absolutely hilarious. Like, I strive for the amount of cynicism she has (I’ve already got the sarcasm down to a science at this point). Her cynicism actually was very relatable, not to mention entertaining, to me. This is literally on the first page of the book, and it just made me realize that I would love this book:
“Nothing made me want to get hit by a bus more than Tuesday night happy pill (see: Zoloft) runs. After a lengthy car ride with my mother, who spent all ten minutes singing a God-awful Christian melody and praying for the state of my wayward soul, I’d have to physically restrain my hands to keep myself from shoving the door open and rolling out onto the highway. Sometimes I prayed, too. That a piano would fall from the sky and crush my miserable, suburban existence. Or that God would set CVS on fire to spare me from having to choose between Mickey Mouse and Flintstones gummy vitamins. Since I was, quite unfortunately, still alive, I took it that God couldn’t hear me over my mother’s off-key rendition of ‘Amazing Grace.'”
Let’s talk about Reggie’s mother because man, do I have problems with Reggie’s mother. Basically, her mother sees Reggie’s depression as a failing, as evidence that she has fallen away from God, and of her blaspheming against God. The woman physically made me want to strangle her for the majority of the book. I physically had to restrain myself from trying to reach through the book and kill her. But, she did go through some development. I will give her that. We get to finally understand her towards the end of the novel. Turns out she quit her job that she loved so much (working at a daycare) because she wanted to take care of Reggie where she was diagnosed with depression.
She also eventually gets off her “holier than thou” high horse and calms down the judgments (man, does that woman know how to judge). She starts to become a decent human being, and I didn’t wish her dead. I’m not saying I grew to like her character. I’m saying that I just don’t want her dead anymore, which is major progress, trust me. This woman is so religious, however, that it puts my mother to shame (this is a really great feat; I never thought anyone could top my mother in terms of being religious). Reggie at one point says that her mother is so religious that it probably makes God embarrassed. Another Reggieism that I found absolutely hilarious.
Snake does not go through the amount that Reggie goes through, but he definitely changes by the end of the book. In the beginning, he is kind of just a slightly immature teenager. By the end of the book, he grows to be kind of a man. He becomes much more mature, which is great considering he is having a kid, but it isn’t just that. He becomes to realize that he cannot rely on other people to make him feel happy. He shouldn’t try to make someone else fix him because the only person who could fix him was himself, and that just really showed a lot of character development.
I also cried during this novel. It definitely didn’t read the level of The Book Thief (I don’t think I could ever reach that level of sobbing again), but I was crying a good amount. I am not telling you why, but so many sad and depressing (pun intended) things were happening in the story at that point that I just could not handle it. And then about two pages later I started laughing because that’s the way this story goes. It was literally about Reggie saying that catfish were the ugliest things ever to be made and that God made the “ugliest possible creature his mind could ever have the displeasure of imagining.” This book just makes me laugh and cry almost at the same time throughout the novel, and that is just an amazing feat for me. I am so not the crying type when it comes to reading…
This was definitely a character-driven story, and I just loved it so much. It was hilarious, it was relatable, it talked about depression in a very realistic light, and it is definitely my favorite book I’ve read thus far about depression. I loved the writing style (it was very different than any other book I’ve ever read, and it just made the book even more entertaining, in my opinion), I loved the plot, I freaking loved most of the characters, and I think this was an excellent debut novel for Whitney Taylor. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future!
And there you have it! That was my review of Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor. What is your favorite book featuring a character that suffers from a mental illness? Sounds off in the comments below! And that is going to be it for this post today. Thank you all so much for reading this, I hope you enjoyed it, and I will see you next time!