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Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy
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Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  4,781 ratings  ·  582 reviews
Continuously in print for nearly two decades, this groundbreaking and profoundly moving story told in verse, from award-winning author Sonya Sones, has been repackaged with a striking new cover and bonus content.

When her beloved older sister is hospitalized after a sudden mental breakdown, Cookie is left behind to cope with a family torn apart by grief, friends who shun he
Paperback, 145 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by HarperTeen (first published October 31st 1999)
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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,781 ratings  ·  582 reviews

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Christie Strowman
May 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Stop Pretending is a story of a young girl that suffers from a mental disorder. She grew up as a normal girl in a loving family and had an excellent relationship with her younger sister. Suddenly, she starts hearing voices in her head. It gets so out of control that she must be placed in a mental institution. The story is actually not told through the eyes of this girl, but by the younger sister, Cookie. It is an extremely emotional story written in free verse. Cookie recalls memories with her s ...more
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was great! A few parts were pretty confusing but once I read it over a couple of times it made more sense.
Sep 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poetry readers
Shelves: 2010, verse, ya
I seem to be alone in my adoration of Sonya Sones, because my reading buddies don't really share my love of "What My Mother Doesn't Know," but what can you do?

"Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Sister Went Crazy" is my 3rd Sones book and once again, the writer manages to touch me emotionally, and this is a sure sign of great writing for me. Based on Sones' personal experiences, this book is a collection of poems about a 13-year old girl whose older sister unexpectedly experiences a nervous
Nov 16, 2017 added it
This book is good but depressing. Don't get me wrong its a beautiful story told in poetry but just depressing. Its a story about how a girl so innocent goes insane in an instant. A family so pure and full of life gets pulled apart but finds there way back together. ...more
Andrew Munroe
Apr 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm not into poetry but this type of poetry was put into a story about her sister going insane. It really drew in my attention about how it was designed and written. ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy was okay. I really am not a ginormous fan of poetry unless is pretty old (for example, I love Edgar Allan Poe), but this book had a good subject. It was meaningful, and that made it somewhat good. It was a good, quick read, but one I never would have picked up if not required by my class. I recommend it to lovers of poetry.
Eva B.
Oct 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-star, hoopla
This was pretty good, it was just hard to relate to the main character due to the fact that I'm more likely to be in the sister's position than in hers. I'll definitely recommend this to someone who's impacted by a sibling's mental health, though.
Hannah M.
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
My overall rating would be 3.5 stars.

This book was really good, and definitely a poetry book for me, since I usually do not like poetry at all. it shows a really amazing story, and I enjoyed most of it quite well.

Although, I don't really trust that kid, John, even though he didn't do anything at all. In fact, he was pretty cool. But I guess movies have just fogged my mind not to trust attractive new kids. *Cough cough* Jason Dean *cough cough*

I really should have finished the book sooner, since
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Alyssa by: Mrs. Lawton
People often write about what it's like to experience mental illness, but witnessing it is hardly ever writen about. Stop Pretending is the story of a girl who watches her sister decend into desperation, and the confusion that comes with watching someone you care about become unfamiliar to you. The book is written in a series of poems that paint a picture of the internal struggles she went through. It was interesting to watch the girl begin to question herself based on her sister's experiences. ...more
Nileishka P.
Oct 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite Book's because this book taught me alot one of the things that this book taught me was No matter what happens keep your head up high this book is really intresting is about a girl that her big sister had a nervous break down && now every one says she unormal just because her sister turn a lil bit crazy && people that she thouqht would be there for her was never there they just left her all alone with no body support buht her parents this also taught me that dont care a ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't expecting this book to be as good as this. In a way it was similar to Backlash because at times sister was the main perspective and that is what Stop Pretending is about. I thought the book was great and had no idea the entire time I was reading it that it was true. The author kept diary entries and when she was older turned them into a book. When I was reading I could picture everything because the author was amazing at telling what she was feeling. ...more
Kaitlyn Baker
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Powerful book written in free-verse poetry about mental illness and the impact it has on loved ones.

A couple of pages get a little mature for a young reader, so the ideal grade level would be a minimum 7th-8th.
Feb 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I think it was really good and it went by pretty fast. I read this book in one day and I only had to go back and read it again at the beginning once. It is about a girl who has a sister who is a little bit in her mind, and the book is about the girl watching her sister grow into a crazing person. The sister went into a crazy person with out any warnings, so she was heart broken when she realize this. She has to deal with friends, classmate, boy friends and her parents. It also goes back in time ...more
Hannah Crabtree
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty good book, but it was sad how the main character felt about her sister literally going crazy, and she felt she couldn't do anything about it. Towards the end of the book, it started to get better. ...more
Patricia J. O'Brien
Sonya Sones is masterful at packing emotion into few words. Verse fiction demands that, as well as cadence and sensory detail. STOP PRETENDING is based on true events when Sones was young and her older sister suffered a mental breakdown. I was overwhelmed with the honesty and heart in these verses. Having mentally unstable family members myself I found this book to be moving on a personal level and important on a universal level.
Sones shows moments of her sister's scary and unpredictable actions
Katie Young
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Katie Young

This book is a collection of short, poignant poems written by Sonya Sones when she was 13 and her 19 year old sister went crazy one Christmas Eve. The poems tell the story of her life through this tragic event and vividly describe her feelings, thoughts, fears, and hopes for herself, her sister, and her family. The poems take the reader from her adoration of her beautiful and smart older sister and then to her breakdown and hospitalization. When her sister begins to recover, Son
Jun 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Stop Pretending was an interesting but confusing book. I had to re-read that book over and over and i still dont get some of it. I liked how the family started to go and visit the one who went crazy. I also felt bad for the "normal" sister because she wasnt getting the attention that she wanted. I also liked how she kept the advice she got from her teacher. I hated how all her founds like disowned the "normal" friend because her sister went crazy. I think that people shouldnt care if they were r ...more
Jolie W
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this is a story about a girl named cookie, that struggles with her sister ,boys, and school. some of the characters are cookie, her parents, her sister, and her "boyfriend" john. so the basic plot is that her sister goes crazy and ends up in a syce ward. when she's recovering from that she gets sexualy harrased by her best friends big brother. her best friend spreads it around. then she meets john. i didn't really like that she was so negitive about everything, but i do like her rude humor. i wo ...more
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Sonya Sones has a great gift for creating novels in verse that read like someone whispering truth in your ear.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Stop Pretending,” by Sonya Sones was an excellent story that was told from one character’s point of view. This single point of view reflected on how the character’s life changed after her big sister went crazy and was sent to a mental institution. The story isn’t written in normal text; it is written in a poetic format where there are different stanzas. These series of poems describes her life from the moment her sister was put in the hospital and how it led to where she is at in her life now. ...more
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I first read this when I was a pre-teen and I loved it then.

2018 Re-read:
Content Warnings: (unchallenged) ableism including the use of derogatory terms to describe someone diagnosed with a severe mental health disorder; (unchallenged) normalization of mental illness as a burden on one's family; and (unchallenged) underdeveloped parenting skills

Why I Recommend Bumping This DOWN On Your TBR:
It might be important to note that I'm a mental health professional, and that has a huge impact on my analys
Alyssia Cooke
Short and poignant. I am personally more of a fan of tightly formatted rhyming verse but the flyaway style of this poetry works well with the emotional narrative it’s telling. An interesting look at how it feels to be the ‘normal one’ in a family where big sister has gone crazy. At turns funny, sweet and touching, Sonya Sones doesn’t hold back the realism’s of being a teenager in such a chaotic world.

I think this book could easily be used to kickstart conversations with young adults about mental
Tristan Leerhoff
Apr 22, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lizzy Gragg
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book of poetry. When reading this book, if you look past the small rhymes and coded wording you will find a way bigger meaning in the poems. I didn't used to be a huge fan of poetry but this book defiantly changed my mind. Not only was this book full of very interesting separate poems, it also brought them all together to tell a wonderful/true story. 10/10 Recommend. ...more
Sarah Hunnicutt
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cute story not much resolution

This was such a quick read! Cookie’s sister has had a mental breakdown and is hospitalized. Cookie is 13 and trying to process everything. Her parents are constantly fighting and her room seems so weird without her sister there. There wasn’t as much resolution as I would have liked but I still enjoyed the book.
Kelsey C
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought the book was really good and interesting. It brought you through a young thirteen-year-olds story of her big sister and her "mental breakdowns" in free verse. The poems were well written and I enjoyed them! I would recommend it to people who are fans of autobiographies and poetry, it was defiantly a good read! ...more
Mindy Greiling
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful poetry that captures just how families feel when mental illness strikes them. It's all the more riveting because it's told by a 13-year-old girl whose life is just unfolding. ...more
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. A realistic (based on the author's own experiences with her sister) look at extreme mental illness. A book that in 1999 sought to destigmatize mental illness years before current mental health advocacy. ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was very powerful. It showed a girl's, Cookie's, perspective of how it is to live with a sister that went crazy. These various poems describe her life from the moment her sister was put in the hospital and just like a domino effect, her life changed from continuous reactions. Through these poems it is shown how she truly misses her life before with her sister from all the things they did together and how close they were. She misses that time when she had a true family. But no ...more
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SONYA SONES has written seven young adult novels in verse: Stop Pretending, What My Mother Doesn’t Know, What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know, One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies, To Be Perfectly Honest, Saving Red, and The Opposite of Innocent.

Her books have received many awards, including a Christopher Award, the Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Poetry, the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, a L

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“Madame V
begins the lesson
by reading aloud the first stanza
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Il pleure dans mon coeur
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that pierces my heart?"

Saying these words out loud,
right in front of the whole class,
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