Bel Reviews: Susan Vaught's - "Freaks Like Us"

For those who don’t know, I have an hereditary eye condition with a name as long as your arm. The short version is I can’t see out of my left eye and the shape of my eyes sets me apart from ‘normality’. I am used to questions about my nationality that hurt my feelings, and until this year I had been passed over for paying jobs for almost half my life. All because I don’t look ‘normal’.

This book made me think about how would I feel if I looked completely normal and the issues were inside my mind instead? The stigmas surrounding mental illness and social anxieties.

Blurb from

“‘You’re just a freak. You’re just a stupid freak. Freaks don’t
speak. Freaks shouldn’t speak. Don’t talk out of your head or the swirly clouds will eat you because sometimes clouds have teeth.’

Jason’s best friend, Sunshine, has vanished. If only Jason could push through all the voices in his head, he’d know what happened; he’d tell everyone; he’d find her. But then people don’t always listen to kids like Jason…”

I will not pretend to know what it’s like to have schizophrenia, or ADD or ADHD or any of the other ‘alphabets’ mentioned in this tell-it-how-it-is novel. I can however relate to society not taking me seriously. Pushing me aside to get what they think they can’t get from me. Things like ethics, courage, and a sense of responsibility.

This is how Freak (Jason), and Drip (Derrick) spend most of the book – proving to the adults that they are capable of making decisions, and helping to find Sunshine. They do have functioning brains and ideas of their own. But nobody listens to an alphabet, right?

I believe strongly that this book should be compulsory reading for kids 13 and up. An age bracket where society believes empathy doesn’t exist. It does, though I think books like this would help trigger a generation of socially aware, de stigmatised adults who realise letters are just that, letters. Who you are should be taken more on how you contribute to the lives around you, rather than the label you’ve been given.

Susan Vaught, has an undeniable talent for in-your-face realism and an unflinching view of how society should step up and be accountable.

Thank you for the chance to read Freaks Like Us. The world will never look the same to me again.

Paperback, UK, 240 pages

Published January 3rd 2013 by Bloomsbury UK (first published September 4th 2012)

ISBN: 1408836165 (ISBN13: 9781408836163)

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