Bleed Through by Adriana Arrington

This novel takes a fascinating look inside the mind of a character with severe mental illness. The writing was incredibly vivid, to the point where I could “see” scenes happening in my mind, like a movie. (This book would certainly make a great movie—I am imagining films like The Sixth Sense or Fight Club, with plenty of shocks and reveals).

The main character, twenty-five year old Liam, cannot always distinguish between what is a hallucination or delusion and what is real. As the book goes on, I as a reader found it a little easier to tell, but for the main character his imaginary friends and enemies inflict tremendous pain and suffering. At times the scenes in Liam’s head play out like a horror movie, and serve as a stark reminder of the challenges people with mental illness can face, especially when they have a psychotic break from reality.

There is a secondary magical aspect to the book, which I won’t reveal, but it adds to the suspense. I got a kick out of the fact that Liam’s most loyal protector (against the voices in his head) is the family cat, who is able to dissipate (in Liam’s mind) threatening hallucinations.

Liam’s step-father makes a valiant effort to protect him against a system that seems rigged against him; the step-father is a sympathetic character despite mistakes he makes. There is also a sweet younger sister who the reader can’t help but continually worry about; while Liam would never cause intentional harm, his unpredictable behavior sometimes ends in chaos and dangerous situations.

Overall, this is a gripping thriller and a thoughtful look at the life of a young man with severe mental illness.