Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Bitter Pill to Swallow” as Want to Read:
A Bitter Pill to Swallow
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book

A Bitter Pill to Swallow

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  81 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Winner of the 2016 Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award for Fiction, Non-Traditionally Published.

On the edge of the Chicago medical district, the Harrison School for Exceptional Youth looks like a castle in a snow globe. Janina has been there since she was ten years old, and now she's fourteen. She feels so safe inside its walls that she's afraid to leave.
Kindle Edition, 205 pages
Published January 1st 2016 by Pronoun
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Bitter Pill to Swallow, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Bitter Pill to Swallow

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  81 ratings  ·  24 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Bitter Pill to Swallow
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
!!! review:
This book is why we need to support Indie writers more. Loooooved this for so many reasons. I would give this 5 stars, but the words 'crazy' and 'normal' were over-used for a story of this nature. Other than that, this was a very timely read for me. I should read more YA!
Special thanks to Tiffany Gholar for this edition, as Dr. Gail Thomas's story intrigued me as a dental student.

4.5 stars
Karen • The Book Return
This book was originally posted on my blog The Book Return BlogThe Book Return Blog
A Bitter Pill to Swallow’s’ storyline addresses a seldom discussed topic. The mental health of teens in America. The story has four very different points of view. All work or live in a treatment facility for teens with mental health issues. The first POV is that of ,Janina, a teen who is artistically talented but struggles with self-esteem and social anxiety issues. The second POV is that of Devante. He is an acad
Nicole Field
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Goodness, this book is difficult to rate. On the one hand, it has some very important content that I've not seen in YA fiction before. It's multi-person viewpoints allowed us to see the trajectories of Devante who has PTSD, Janina who has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, but also two adults who have had their own experience with mental illness: Gail and Dr Lutkin.

Maybe it was for this reason that a lot of the scenes felt incredibly choppy. I kept on coming to the end of chapters and
Brittney Haase
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book has such a wonderful message. So many people have been misunderstood and categorized as something they are not, especially those that are gifted. Just because you're different does not meant there is anything wrong with you.

I also love that this book does not focus on the pharmaceutical aspect of mental illness, as I am a firm believer that you do not necessarily need to medicate a mental illness. Talking or "talk therapy", among the many other therapies mentioned in this book are ofte
Cathy *Booklover4everandever*
An exceptional book...

As a victim (probably not the best choice of word) of mental health, this book was amazing to me. As well read as I think I am even I did not know all of the stuff that was in this book. I am giving props to the author whom put a lot of research into mental illness in the 90's into this book. You did a great job and should be very proud. Everyone needs to read this book in my opinion. It deserves 10 stars if I could...
Dakota Sillyman
rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2017
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it

See my original review on my blog:

I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

TW: suicide ideation, depression, depictions of mental illness treatment centers

A Bitter Pill to Swallow by Tiffany Gholar is a young adult novel set in Chicago. The story follows multiple characters in story lines that intertwine as the novel progresses; however the main story follows Devante and Janina and their experiences at the Harrison S
Kimberly (kimberly_reads)
I have a full review written here:

Here are my initial thoughts after I finished reading the story.

I found this to be a wonderful book. The characters were so well written (to the point I felt like I was in their very shoes) and all I wanted to do throughout this story is say how proud of everyone I am for how far they’ve come.

I want to thank the author, Tiffany Gholar, for sending me a copy of her book in exchange for a review and I can’t wait to see what
Jude Austen
Jul 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Very easy to read. The author overuses the word "crazy" and "normal" like they have no synonyms. I also felt that there were a lot of filler pages and/or chapters. Besides that it's not a bad book. ...more
Nov 03, 2016 rated it liked it

A Bitter Pill to Swallow is a book that brings together four very different characters. The premise of this book was intriguing and was one of the reasons I wanted to read it. Books about mental illness are important and something I want to read more of. This was actually the first novel that I've read that revolved around mental health.

There are many things this book does well:

diverse set of characters with diverse issues. Tiffany Gholar did a great job including racial diversity in the book.
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was sent a copy of A Bitter Pill to Swallow by the author Tiffany Gholar in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Tiffany!

This book was a bit of a slow start for me, but it ended up picking up and I really enjoyed it. It’s set in Chicago in 1994. It follows for characters (Janina, Devante, Dr. Gail, and Dr. Lutkin) and their stories intertwine. It deals mental illness, which I think is very important for readers to read about. It gives you an insight into mental illness and how it was trea
Alyssia Cooke
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a powerful and emotional book. It's message and it's contents are hugely important. So it's a four star, because whilst I had issues, this is actually a well written look into youth mental illness. There were moments when the author jarred me out of the narrative with her writing style. There were moments when the journal entries just seemed boring. But overall, this is a book that caught me and kept me.

Mental health is difficult. Adolescent mental health even more so. This really delves
LitPick Book Reviews
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set at a therapeutic boarding school, A Bitter Pill to Swallow tells the story of two teens and two adults both overcoming their own problems. Janina has trouble fitting in, and Devante has anxiety from a traumatic experience. Gail is frustrated by the cruel place she was working, and Dr. Lutkin is haunted by the mistakes of his past. As each person goes about their journey of healing, they will begin to unravel a medical mystery. Will this mystery change the life of one patient and doctor forev ...more
Jana Lanham
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is an important book about two mentally ill Black teens & two doctors dealing with mental health in the 90's. The book's use of the word "crazy" is stigmatizing, but it is still an emotionally moving story. As a creative Black person battling depression, I found the character Janina especially relatable. Although the book is a bit dated due to the time period it is set in, it is still a great read.

Elyssa  Derka
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great and empowering story!

I love that this book has a positive yet realistic look into mental illnesses and how that sometimes a disorder isn't always an impossible curse
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great book tackling mental illness. Though fictional, it was really well researched and had great characters!
Sumedha the wordy habitat
I received an e-copy of this book from the author in return for a review. This does not affect my review.

The book is written mainly in four POVs of Janina, Dr. Lutkin, Gail and Devante. Janina has been in the The Harrison School for about four years and Devante has just joined. The plot takes us through mental health problems and healing of all the students, Gail’s struggle to find a psychiatric place where she wants to work and Dr. Lutkin keeping the school how it is against others who want to
Sydney Timmins
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Harrison School helps children and teenagers struggling with their mental health to continue with their education whilst being treated for the issues that they are experiencing. At the school, we meet Janina who has been diagnosed with depression and has been at the school for four years and is afraid to leave the schools safety.

Devante has been a witness to a life changing traumatic shooting in which the girl he cared about lost her life and he is finding life difficult. He attempts suicid
Beth Jones
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Edition: Paperback, 330 pages, published January 20th 2016

Disclaimer: I reviewed this book on behalf of Tiffany Gholar, the author. I received a paperback copy in return for an honest review.

The solid, definite and perfect for the book. Although there is not much action, there is definitely enough plot-twists to keep it interesting!

The characters...were really interesting. I loved Janina, one of the main characters, and I felt I could relate to her in some ways. I found it absolutely o
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the story of two teenagers who are misdiagnosed and misunderstood by friends and family, and the adults who seek to help them. Devante has lost his best friend and falls into a deep depression. After barely being rescued from a suicide attempt he finds himself at the Harrison School, a facility for children with mental illness for instead of being medicated they are coached and mentored to understand themselves and their individual challenges. At Harrison, he meets Janina, a young lady w ...more
Boundless Book Reviews
I really loved A Bitter Pill to Swallow. I took Psychology in high school and college and loved the subject. I am not cut out to be a doctor or a nurse, but that doesn't mean I can't help people and its something that brings me a lot of fulfillment. Some people don't need physical help, they just need emotional or mental help. Sometimes they just need to know they are not alone in the troubles they face, even though they feel as if they are. This book shows that.

A Bitter Pill to Swallow follows
Megan Verwey
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
During the process of reading this book I talked to SOO MANY people about it! Tiffany tells the story of 4 individuals intertwined by the Harrison school for the “mentally ill”. By narrating through each individual’s eyes and bringing them all together – you get a whole new sense of the term “you never know what someone is going through”. Janina, Devante, Dr. Lutkin and Gail all have their own internal struggles to deal with as well as concern for each other.
Every chapter I read I felt more and
Erin Cataldi
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I honestly wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book and it didn't immediately grab me, but by page 20 or so I became hooked. Told through alternating perspectives, this story follows two young patients in a mental illness facility for youth, a promising med student, and the director of the facility. Each of their voices help flesh out this small contained world of confusion, pain, and hope. Devante is admitted after he tries to commit suicide for being unable to deal with the death ...more
Jan 04, 2016 added it
The Harrison School for Exceptional Youth is a world apart from traditional mental health facilities. Rather than drugs and discipline, there are art therapy classes and life skills classes. In charge of the Harrison School for Exceptional Youth is Dr. Lutkin, a man who wanted to create a unique and fulfilling environment which would allow the students to grow and learn to cope with their illnesses in a way which lets them lead productive lives in the outside world. Janina has been a student for ...more
Meghan Flynn
rated it it was ok
Jun 02, 2019
David Spiller
rated it it was amazing
Nov 30, 2020
Donna Carver
rated it really liked it
Dec 02, 2017
Imani Josey
rated it it was amazing
Sep 19, 2017
rated it really liked it
Oct 19, 2017
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Infinite Noise (The Bright Sessions, #1)
  • Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition
  • Something That May Shock and Discredit You
  • Trans Teen Survival Guide
  • You and Your Gender Identity: A Guide to Discovery
  • Watch Over Me
  • Non-Binary Lives - An Anthology of Intersecting Identities
  • Dancing at the Pity Party
  • The Dilemma
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
  • Beyond the Kingdoms (The Land of Stories, #4)
  • Slay
  • Eye Contact (Mark Manning Mystery, #2)
  • All Eyes on Us
  • Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now
  • Calling My Name
  • Intimations
  • Finding Yvonne
See similar books…
I am a Chicago-based artist working in a variety of media. I have three primary bodies of work: The Doll Project, Post-Consumerism, and Recessionism. I studied art as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and interior design at Harrington College of Design and hold a Masters Degree in Painting from Governors State University. My art has been exhibited in many Chicago-area venues, including ...more

Related Articles

It's time to get in that last stretch of winter reading and prepare our Want to Read shelves for spring. Luckily for us, February brings a...
45 likes · 10 comments