Between the Bliss and Me by Lizzy Mason is a young adult novel focusing on mental illness, romance, and how family history can affect the plans of a teen. Eighteen-year-old Sidney Holman has decided to attend New York University (NYU), instead of her mother’s preferred Rutgers University, as a way to rebel and move out of the apartment that she shares with her mother. Sydney’s father, who left her when she was a child due to drug addiction, is a schizophrenic, Sydney learns that he is living on the streets of New York City and she decides to find him.
Set over the summer after Sydney’s graduation and before she leaves for NYU, the novel also focuses on her budding romance with Grayson, a musician who will start school at Julliard in the fall, her friendship with Elliot who is gay and a loyal friend, her relationship with her mother, and her relationship with her wealthy grandparents who tried to do a lot for their son. When Sydney understands that schizophrenia is hereditary, she reevaluates her future plans for school and her relationship with Grayson.
This book is sweet in terms of the budding romance between Sydney and Grayson, heartfelt in its portrayal of schizophrenia, and emotional in the scenes between Sydney and her father and Sydney and her mother. The different perspectives on mental health, the activism and laws associated with mental health, and the challenges that family members face with someone who has severe mental illness are portrayed pretty well. There are also references to music as Elliot and Grayson are in a band and Sydney sings for fun. Sydney, as a character, grows throughout the book and the other characters are also memorable. This is a hopeful and compassionate book worth reading because it deals with some difficult but relevant topics.