Title: Perfectly Damaged
Author: E.L. Montes
Release Date: May 8, 2014
Schizoaffective disorder: a mental illness in which a person experiences a combination of mood disorder and schizophrenia symptoms.I know about this illness—very well—because I suffer from it. It’s been four years since my diagnosis, and ever since, I’ve been living in a dark hole. Voices constantly invading my thoughts. Hallucinations. All of which force me to question if what I’m experiencing is even reality. But here I am, still hanging on, still breathing and living through it. That is, until he stumbled into my life. Logan Reed. I don’t want any part of him. I’ve pushed him away, but he isn’t easily deterred. I’ve told him I’m different, but he doesn’t care. He’s trying to slowly break me down. I’m trying just as hard not to let him. He doesn’t know how truly damaged I am; what will happen when he does? I know the truth—he’ll never be able to look at me the same way again. Just like everybody else.
You know that feeling you get when you hear a song and you just know that song was meant for you? It isn’t just your mind telling you that you enjoy the melody or the beat or the words. It’s your heart and soul connecting to those elements, finding comfort in them, finding a home. That’s how this book made me feel. By the time I was finished with it I was completely overwhelmed by the journey I’d just taken. This story isn’t pretty. It’s hard and it hurts and it’s real. But this story is also incredibly beautiful and full of hope.
“Don’t lose who you are, Jenna. It’s okay to feel, even for this one moment.”
Jenna is a survivor. She is my favorite kind of heroine, vulnerable and a little broken but incredibly brave and strong. Jenna lives with a mental illness. A tragedy in her life rips away any sense of “normal” she had and throws her world into emotional chaos. Her seemingly perfect life is a lie and she has next to no support system. It is enough to destroy anyone, but Jenna fights it. Logan is broken too after dealing with a loss of his own, but he is lucky enough to have a good group of friends and family around. Together they are the perfect mess. There were times when I seriously questioned whether these two people could ever get it together enough to be good for each other. E.L. did such an amazing job crafting and growing Jenna and Logan over the course of the story, that by the end I couldn’t imagine a world where they didn’t meet, didn’t help one another and leave each other forever altered.
“Do you trust me?”
“With all I have,” I admit.
What I loved the most about Perfectly Damaged was its honesty. For someone with a mental illness, there is no one out there who can come into your life and “fix” you. It doesn’t work that way. So many times I have read about characters falling in love and suddenly all of the nightmares and anxiety and depression just melt away. Jenna doesn’t stop dealing with her disorder simply because she meets Logan. He helps her in immeasurable ways, but she still struggles and breaks, even in front of him. Everything about this story was spot on. E.L. builds this story in every possible direction. She writes about the internal battles: the nightmares, the guilt, the shame, and the utter devastation. She writes about the external forces that make living with a mental illness difficult: society’s view on “crazy,” parents unwilling to accept imperfection, and therapists who don’t quite understand. The world she has created is incredibly complex, extremely delicate and completely raw. As I moved through this story I couldn’t help but be entirely consumed by it.
“I hope that there’s a moment in everyone’s life when everything around them just stops. There’s no movement whatsoever, yet you feel… Every. Single. Thing.”
When I finished Perfectly Damaged, I sent my partner in crime a message telling her that I was crying. She asked me if it was a good cry or a bad cry and I told her it was a very good cry. It was a “I-just-let-out-a-breath-I-didn’t-realize-I’d-been-holding-since-the-beginning” kind of cry. This book left me emotionally drained but feeling fulfilled. I’m pretty sure I felt just about everything while reading Jenna and Logan’s story. Their story was so easy to connect with, so full of pain and joy and life. It resonated deep down in my soul and shined its light on the darkest corners of my mind. Jenna and Logan took a piece of my heart with their story and I’d happily give it away all over again.
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