Idiot by Holly Smith

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

IdiotIdiot by Holly Smith is a story rooted in real events, which has blossomed into a gripping work of fiction. The book touches on several major social issues, like teen pregnancy, attempted mass school shooting, substance abuse, and domestic violence. Unfortunately, as recent events have shown, these remain ever more current and pressing. But beyond these, rises the life of a girl and her continual struggle with the hardship of life.

We are invited by Holly Smith on a very intimate journey, as we flick through the pages of Eva Langston’s diary. The first time we meet her, she is a troubled teenager trying to find a place for herself in life as she is spun around in the foster care system. Lacking a deeply coveted stability, she finds herself a constant misfit and on the verge of making some life threatening decisions. Her present is shadowed by a childhood marked by an abusive father, made bearable only by the presence of a loving mother and a loyal friend, Kami. But by dwelling into these memories in her journal, at the encouragement of her therapist, she starts working through them and slowly rises above.

The book is marked by a clear split in the general atmosphere and storyline. The second half is in an undeniably more optimistic tone, the scenery of Eva’s life has finally shifted from foster care to a loving family. This section explores how she is accepted by a group of people and how she now faces the new challenges with the help of a solid support system. Eva also engages in a romantic relationship, which helps her uncover new parts of herself. So, the main theme here is love on so many different levels.

While Idiot addresses many instances of abuse and pain, it is not about these, but about how to rise above. Help can come under different forms, from professional interventions, to support from friends and family. The important thing is to open up and allow others in. Other people are a crucial part of the healing process, but in the end, it is still a journey to be made alone.