Aaaaand welcome back to my Diversity December Bingo! I hadn’t actually planned for this to be one of my squares, but I had randomly picked up The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, and realised that it fit very well.
What if you aren’t the Chosen One?
The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.
Hilariously, each chapter begins with what the ‘indie’ kids (the Chosen Ones) are up to. There’s a girl named Satchel, a prince of a weird alternate kingdom, and lots of random kissing. However, whatever is happening with the blue lights and indie kids is not the focus of the story. Rather, it is about a group of close-knit friends who are trying to graduate high school, and move away from their small town.
As funny as this book was, this isn’t the reason why it really resonated with me. What the blurb doesn’t mention is that Mikey and his sister deal with anxiety, OCD, and anorexia. I thought that Ness’ depiction of anxiety was particularly good, as it slowly twisted his thoughts and way of perceiving the world, and became more and more pressing. There’s a fantastic scene where Mikey goes to his therapist, who talks to him about suicide and how medication would help him. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that has talked about medicating for mental health problems, let alone one that talked about it positively. I was really impressed with this. And, I’m not going to lie, it made me really emotional that these sorts of conversations can be included in young adult fiction today.
There are also LGBT+ characters. Overall I thought the depiction of their sexualities was good, although the fact that one of the character is gay does come as a ‘twist’ near the end of the novel, which I found quite annoying. However, the main gay character, Jared, was a wonderfully rounded character, as he also was raised in a single-parent household (his dad), and is the grandson of the goddess of cats.
I can see why this book hasn’t been as well received as Ness’ other publications – it is not a grand adventure, but rather a small tale about seemingly small people. It didn’t destroy me like A Monster Calls did, but rather it built up a group of friends who would do anything for each other. And for me? That’s, in itself, a type of saving the world.