Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.
Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.
Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?
10 Things I Can See From Here is a young adult novel by Carrie Mac that features Maeve, a young lesbian with anxiety. Fantastic idea – I love that YA is becoming increasingly intersectional. It really bodes well for the future! But here, unfortunately, I found myself increasingly annoyed not only by the characters, but by the various microaggressions scattered throughout the book.
(TWs: death of a secondary character, alcoholism, drug abuse, homophobic slurs, non-consensual kiss.)
Maeve is incredibly annoying. And it is not because of her anxiety. I have anxiety – I know how potentially irritating it is to have the same worries and thoughts go round and around your head. I thought this was aspect of Maeve’s character was quite well done, actually. She almost compulsively remembers facts and statistics about accidents and deaths, and often composes fake obituaries in her head. Some of them were morbidly funny, and I could really see someone with anxiety doing them. Other than that, however, Maeve was dull. She whined about everything, and in a way that I think is totally separate to her mental illness.
Then there were the microaggressions that piled up throughout the novel. I’m just going to quickly list them, because discussing each individually would take up way too much time:
- One of the first things Maeve’s father asks her is whether she is ‘still’ a lesbian. He is set up as a bit of a dick, but very little was made of it.
- Her parents won’t let her take meds because of her ‘developing brain’. Despite the fact that they would clearly help alongside her therapy. (Also, she moves to Canada for 6 months, and they don’t bother to set her up with a new therapist? Despite the fact that the family is falling apart around her? SERIOUSLY?!)
- There is the death of the one woman of colour for white girl character development.
- In a flashback, Maeve remembers how her best friend Ruthie came out to her. Maeve immediately assumes that Ruthie is attracted to her. (This may just be a pet peeve of mine because straight girls often assume that’s the reason I tell them I’m bi.) However, it turns out that Ruthie is into her – and shows this by kissing Maeve without her consent. Maeve immediately forgives her. There is a scene where Salix, Maeve’s love interest, makes it very clear that this is NOT OK, but it felt like Maeve just shrugged it off.
Also, this novel contained the quickest birthing scene known to God. Seriously, I started laughing about how quick it was, and this was supposed to be the climax of the novel.
All in all, I think that both the LGBT+ and anxiety representation were lacklustre at best. I really wanted to love it, but this, combined with boring characters, made me feel frustrated at best.