The first and most important thing you need to know about “Head over Feet in Love” is that Rebecca, the MC, is manic for a great deal of the book. But that’s what I liked about it, too. You see, Rebecca has anxiety and depression and passive suicidal tendencies, and when things get stressful, her mind shuts down. She doesn’t know how to deal with traumatic situations, so she runs away. That’s her coping mechanism, and in the case of our story, leads her to a friendship with a hermit named Mike. Their friendship is unexpected, but exactly what the other needs in order to get back on their feet again, and as the title implies, find true love.
To be honest, I think more books should mix mental health with romance, because it’s not often that “damaged” people find true love without the trope being: love can fix what’s wrong with them. Obviously, that’s not true, not really. Those with bi-polar or just any mental illness that requires lifelong medication, are not “fixed” by love, but that doesn’t mean they can’t, or shouldn’t have it. What those relationships need is someone with compassion. So it was refreshing that the main character is able to find a healthy relationship with a partner who researches, who learns about her meds, who tries to help her through her depression, who never once calls her crazy. These are all such important issues that need to be addressed: depression does not go away by reasoning with it. When Rebecca’s depression flares up, her partner is patient and understanding, and helps her through it and never once tells her to “just smile”. It’s beautiful! So really, if you’re looking for a book that deals with tough topics but in a very light and a bit silly of a tone—without it being flippant or portrays someone with depression etc. in a negative light—the author delivers on that, hands down! It is a book meant for adults though, in both language, sexual content, and the characters ages (Rebecca is in her 40’s) so know that ahead of time.
There were a few things that made me feel a bit disconnected from the characters at times though, one being how Rebecca acts—not in terms of her mental illness, just her personality. She acts and talks a lot younger than her age, so I felt a bit disconnected there even though I love how her mania is interwoven into the bubbly way the first person narration is presented. But most of the other characters also didn’t seem to act their age, and that made some of them come across as two dimensional and more like caricatures then real people. Also, the timeline gets a bit wonky toward the end so I felt a bit disconnected from Rebecca and Mikes relationship. We are told a lot of their time together, rather than shown it in a linear fashion. Also, there were parts that seemed to focus too heavily on Mike’s insecurities and Rebecca helping him get over the reasons he became a hermit. When compared to Rebecca, his “issues” aren’t as large, and I wanted more of the focus to return to Rebecca learning how to manage her own life, rather than Mike learning to get out of the house again. That being said, the last section of the book is my favorite with how well the issues facing Rebecca are handled and addressed. They aren’t as light and bubbly as the rest of the book, but I liked that realism better, and wished some of the silly anecdotes had been left out so we could have seen more of serious Rebecca.
In a world that is still scared of depression and illnesses you can’t “see”, it’s important that books have diverse characters that show readers more of that world, the healthy way to address those challenges, and to have characters that can function and find love in a partner who accepts them for who they are, and sees them as more than their disease. But even though I liked the messaging of the book and found it easy to read, I wanted more from the support characters, the timeline had me struggling to catch up with how much time Rebecca and Mike had actually known each other, and I wanted more focus to be on Rebecca’s issues vs. Mike’s. I also would have liked a little less levity (weird, I know), as sometimes it bordered on making Rebecca’s disease a joke, and that’s not a great portrayal, either. Overall though, a very solid 4 star read! And thanks to the author for providing me with an ARC copy for an honest review!
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