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The Weight of Zero

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,669 ratings  ·  303 reviews
Seventeen-year-old Cath knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disease, has almost triumphed once, propelling Catherine to her first suicide attempt. With Zero only temporarily restrained by the latest med du jour, time is running out. In an old ballet shoebox, Catherine stockpiles meds, preparing to take her own life whe ...more
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Delacorte Press
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Karen Fortunati HI Karina - I just saw your question. Thank you so much for considering The Weight of Zero. Yes, the story deals with serious mental health issues and…moreHI Karina - I just saw your question. Thank you so much for considering The Weight of Zero. Yes, the story deals with serious mental health issues and I definitely would not recommend to any readers without trigger warnings. That said, the focus is how the main character's suicide plan gets derailed with the help of a support network that includes individual and group therapy, medication and family/friends. The story is all about vocalizing pain and keeping the faith - that help and hope are within reach. Here is the discussion guide for the book:

If that link doesn't work, you can find it on my website:

Thanks again for considering it. You can always reach me at

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Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,669 ratings  ·  303 reviews

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Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: may-2019
Mental Health Read-A-Thon: Bi-Polar Rep

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and as part of that I have decided to participate in a month long readathon. I don't read a lot of books dealing with mental health. I read books with mentally ill characters in them but they are usually not about mental illness. I don't have any mental health issues personally, aside from being neurotic but I do have family members who deal with mental illness. My sister deals with clinical depression, my mom dealt with
Nina (Every Word A Doorway)
3.5 stars

The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati offers a sensitive take on the daily struggles of a teen living with the prospect of a chronic mental illness. Besides highlighting the impact Catherine's bipolar disorder has on her life, such as attending intensive group therapy, and the grim expectations she has for her future, the book tackles subjects such as the burden that rests on parents of mentally ill children, the image of mental health in society, bullying, and first love.

This debut on
Miranda Kenneally
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Such an emotional read and a great book overall. Add this one to your radar!
Karen Hattrup
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
THE WEIGHT OF ZERO is the story of Catherine Pulaski, a 17-year-old who has retreated from the world because of her bipolar disorder, and spends her days living in fear of the horrible depression that she knows will eventually return. She believes that when that happens, suicide may be the only answer, but when little rays of light begin to enter her life junior year, there seems to be a chance for her to change her mind. . .

In this moving and beautiful book, Fortunati shuns clichés and melodra
Rachael ( RachaelRexds )
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
( Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy for review! Trigger warning for suicide and grief )

The Weight Of Zero has definitely become one of my favourite reads of 2016. It was a beautiful, heartbreaking, bittersweet and realistic story about the journey of our main character, Catherine, as she battles her bipolar disorder and depression. As this is more of a character driven novel, I won't be talking much about the plot but focusing more on Catherine instead.

Throughout the story
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Truly amazing. I rarely agree with the Indies Introduce titles but this one deserves to be the headliner.
Margot Harrison
This is a book that promises to be about the realities of living day to day with a mental illness. No rejection of meds or therapy by the protagonist. No "saved by the love of the perfect person" plot.

It delivers. And it makes those grinding realities into a touching, absorbing story with a hopeful message about living with a chronic condition.

The novel's greatest asset is Catherine's believably teenage voice: She's depressed to the point of planning her suicide, yet she hasn't lost her dark sen
Stephanie Elliot
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Weight of Zero is heartbreaking and heroic with a cast of characters that run the gamut – you’ve got bullies and the bullied, the damaged and the ruined, the Queen Bees, and the wanna-bes, and everyone in between. And Catherine, who has tried to commit suicide once and is fearing that Zero will come back for her again, and this time, when he does she will do the job right.

But because of an Intensive Outpatient Program, some new friends, a boy, some new meds, and a new therapist, Zero isn’t m
Kathy Temean
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wow! I think this book should be considered for a Newbury Award. When I read the first chapter, I thought Wow! Karen really nailed that first chapter. But the book continues to draw you in with a heartfelt story. I laughed, I cried, and I wanted to spend time with the wonderful characters occupying the pages. I ended the book saying the same thing I did after the first chapter - WOW! This is a must read. The Weight of Zero is destine to win many awards.
Elvina Zafril
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Updated review:

Incredibly amazing. The Weight of Zero is heart-breaking. I’m glad that I picked up this book. I really appreciated how the mental health aspect was addressed in this book and I loved the main character, Catherine. I loved the writing style.

The Weight of Zero is about a girl named Catherine Pulaski, a 17-year-old who has withdrawn from the world because of her bipolar disorder. She spends her days living in dread of horrible depression that will eventually return. She feels that s
Everly Frost
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’m going to try to find words adequate to describe Karen Fortunati’s THE WEIGHT OF ZERO.

Deeply sad, but the kind of sad that makes me value even one moment of happy

Catherine Pulaski has bipolar disorder. Her so-called friends deserted her when they found out about it and became her worst tormentors at school. Her only friends are the bottles of pills she lines up like soldiers on her bedside table every night—bottles that should be empty but aren’t because Catherine has a pl
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Resigned, hopeful, tormented, conflicted, guilty, loved: these are just some of the emotions portrayed in the Weight of Zero and author Karen Fortunati does an outstanding job of attaching the reader to every emotion that barrels down on Catherine Pulaski. Reaching into the world of the everyday teenager is an almost impossible task; however, Fortunati somehow manages to not only do this, but also take us on the rollercoaster journey of a bipolar teen.

The voice is so authentic, I felt the breat
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Catherine – Cat – Pulaski is a high school junior navigating the ups and downs of adolescent friendships and relationships. She’s also preparing herself for the dreaded appearance of Zero by stockpiling medicine for its inevitable return. Cat is bipolar and Zero is the crippling depression that makes it impossible to live a normal life. A life that isn’t defined by her mother’s constant monitoring, therapy sessions, and a mood rating scale from 0-10. Zero found her once right after her grandmoth ...more
Emily France
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh, this book. The story follows Cath who calls her bipolar depression--and its suffocating darkness--"Zero." And she knows it will return like it always does. She's stockpiled meds to take her life when it rears its ugly head once more. Fortunati does such an expert job of portraying Zero's hold on Cath that it literally took my breath away. I found myself clutching my heart as I read. Through a compelling voice and sharp description, I could feel Cath's struggle on every page. What I love most ...more
Adriana Mather
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story of love and loss.

The protagonist, Catherine (Cath) Pulaski, is a 17-year-old girl who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder shortly after the devastating death of her beloved grandmother. Her first suicide attempt has left her mother traumatized. Zero is Cath's name for the crippling depression that overwhelmed her. She has a plan, though. She is collecting enough pills to defeat Zero if it comes for her again.

Fortunati's portrayal of the impact of chron
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I work with people who are coping with mental illness and I see that their stories are ones of courage, hope and humor so it was with great joy that I read Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati. She did a wonderful job of capturing the reality of a young woman with bi-polar disease. I particularly liked her ability to create a relatable mother /daughter relationship and also believable teen friendships. This is a wonderful book for young adults and the rest of us as well.
Alice Reeds
Find my review (also) on my blog.

* Thank you, Karen, for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review *

There are books you know you will like, and there are books that manage to exceed all your hopes and expectations. The Weight of Zero was high on my list of anticipated reads of 2016 and it didn't fail to deliver, beat all my expectations by a tenfold and easily stands a giant chance at being my book of the year 2016, even though it's only April.
The Weight of Zero belongs to
S.M. Parker
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Karen Fortunati’s The Weight of Zero is perfection.

I know that is a bold promise, but it is true. Perfection. Every line, every word. The story and tension unfold in a way that is at once beautiful and tragic and heart wrenching and hopeful—and Fortunati’s brilliant writing style and compassion keep the reader in capable hands throughout this debut. I am wholly aware as I write this review that my words will not do this book justice. But I will try because I believe this is a book that every te
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book that grabs your interest from page one. Seventeen year old protagonist, Catherine, is dealing with her diagnosis of bipolar disorder, after a devastating depression prompted by the loss of her grandmother. This book deals with a very real and prevalent issue in today's society - mental illness: people's lack of understanding of it, and their propensity to shun those suffering from it. Being a teen is hard enough, but being labeled mentally ill makes things almost impossib ...more
Kirtida Gautam
Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Karen Fortunati's brilliant debut novel-- The Weight of Zero.

Depicting the world of teenagers is not an easy task. They wear rose tainted glasses. And the world of a Bipolar—one day, at the top of the world— next day, at the bottom the valley—is even more zigzag.

To enter in the mind of someone who suffers from a mental health problem is not an easy space either. It takes the writer lot of courage and conviction to undertake this challenge and do it in a way that sounds authentic. There is a rea
John Peake
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Karen Fortunati's The Weight of Zero is a fresh, long-overdue and unique voyage into the trials and tribulation of a young adult struggling with mental illness. Not only must her main protagonist, Cat, struggle with the overwhelming challenges of being a high school student in an environment where bullying, cattiness and downright cruelty prevails, but she must also exhaustively protect the secret of a life-long sentence called bipolar disease (punctuated with paralyzing spells of depression, ak ...more
Janet McNally
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book. I think it's very difficult to write about depression in a way that's both realistic and fresh, but Karen Fortunati has done it with THE WEIGHT OF ZERO. Cath is such a compelling narrator, and her voice is pitch-perfect. She's trying to live her life, but she knows Zero--her depression-- is coming for her, and she has to find a way to deal with that, even if it means ending her life. When Zero doesn't show up when she expects, she has to find a new way to live, and deci ...more
I think it's important to bring mental health issues to the forefront for everyone - and most importantly, for teenagers, a lot of whom think nobody else out there has ever experienced anything they're going through at the time. This was a great example of that, it was just very YA-y. I know that's not a thing. Just in my head.
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just finished The Weight of Zero and can't stop thinking about it. Fortunati's characters are so authentic that I expect to see them in the hallways of my son's high school! The interweaving of Cat's regular teenage world with women's history and the very real struggles with and treatment of mental illness give the story layers and depth that simulate our daily lives - life is complicated, and there is always hope. It is refreshing to find a novel of such substance and strength in this genre.
Kathy Garrisons
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This thoughtful novel will impact anyone going through struggles with adolescence, friendship, parenting or mental illness.I couldn't put the book down. I was rooting for Cat, the main character, as she tried to balance her complicated teenaged years with her secret illness. On this journey, Fortunati takes us back to high school where Cat, as well as the reader, learns lessons from history and lessons about honesty.
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As the parent of two children with mental disorders, this book hit very close to home. The author was able to portray so many of the issues that plague our teens today and the difficult journey they navigate every day. A must read for all teens and anyone who cares about them!
Jen Ryland
May 12, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
There have been a huge number of recent YA books tackling mental health, but there are also a huge number of people out there facing mental health issues, from anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder. While opinions may vary on the "right" way to tackle such a topic, I really liked the way that The Weight of Zero tackled them.

Catherine's been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and this diagnosis cost her a lot. Her best friends shun her and the class bully seems to think she's fair game. So sh
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An extremely beautiful novel which most beautifully captures the loss of friendships following a diagnosis of cognitive or emotional illness as well as the chance to build better friendships , something which as a sufferer of depression I have personally experienced . Also reveals how the condition steals ur ability to connect with others and narrows ur vision of the future. It also reveals some hypocrisies we ppl with emotional illnesses practice. A must read by anyone with or seeking to unders ...more
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight
This is one of the most relatable and honest looks into mental health, especially in regards to young people being afflicted with them, that I have ever read. It wasn't perfect, but it was damn close, and the representation was absolutely on point. There is so much good happening in this book, but I do want to stress that there is a big element of suicidal ideation- this isn't a spoiler
Glenna Pritchett
In the author's note Fortunati said, "I wrote this book because I wanted to talk about handling pain: We need to acknowledge it out loud. We need to tell someone. We need to stay honest and say honest."

I chose to read this book because I have two family members who have mental health disorders, one with long-term major depression and one with bipolar disorder. Even though the book is fiction I hoped to find some insight into their suffering -- and indeed, I did.

I don't have a review of the boo
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