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Four Weeks, Five People

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They're more than their problems

Obsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she's okay.

Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous.

Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality.

Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyone is an idiot.

And Stella just doesn't want to be back for her second summer of wilderness therapy.

As the five teens get to know one another and work to overcome the various disorders that have affected their lives, they find themselves forming bonds they never thought they would, discovering new truths about themselves and actually looking forward to the future.


384 pages, Hardcover

First published May 2, 2017

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Jennifer Yu

3 books75 followers

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5 stars
294 (19%)
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514 (34%)
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472 (31%)
2 stars
181 (11%)
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50 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 279 reviews
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
February 3, 2018
Y’ALL THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD I WANT TO SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS. I absolutely adored Four Weeks, Five People. It is an emotional and very realistic read featuring the largest number of mental illnesses addressed in a novel that I’ve ever seen. I am totally adding it to the top of my mental health fiction recommendations.

TW: depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, anorexia, suicide, narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, dissociative episodes

This is definitely a very character driven novel. Despite a large twist at the end, there are few game-changing plot points so if you desire a fast-paced, eventful contemporary, this may not be the book for you. That being said, I feel there is enough character development and individual conflict for the book to not feel as if it is dragging or lacking substance. I’m typically the opposite type of reader, where plot is super important to me, but I was so enchanted by these characters that I could not help but fall in love.

Of course, the mental health representation in this novel is my favorite aspect. The ownvoices representation for depression and eating disorders was totally evident in the story.

Stella can definitely be rough around the edges, but I love seeing characters who’s depression manifests in anger because that portrayal is often left out of media. She really does soften up as the story progresses and it was so easy to relate to her. She has so many complex layers I loved getting to peel away.

Andrew has to be one of my faves – such a sweet, precious boy who’s struggle I know so well. I’m so happy we have a character with an eating disorder that does partially want to recover and get better while still fighting the very real urges to continue unhealthy behaviors. He really is a light in this group and a person others can look up to.

Clarissa is SUCH A SWEETHEART. A real addition to the story; The voice of reason (and fellow future therapist, for sure) in a sometimes-tumultuous group. One fact I ADORED about her chapters is that with her obsessive-compulsive disorder creating a fixation on the number 7, every paragraph in her chapters is exactly 7 sentences long. That dedication to creating an authentic character really blew me away.

Mason is such a fantastic character. I feel this story would truly be incomplete without him. I do not have the most experience with NPD but I do think this book does a fairly good job at properly representing this illness and not villainizing him in any way. Mason does get the least amount of development in my opinion, which is unfortunate, but I do see some change in him from beginning to end which was really pleasant to see.

I struggled to identify Ben’s affliction as it is not disclosed in text. I considered a diagnosis between bipolar disorder, derealization disorder, etc. until I reached out to the author (SUPER sweet woman) who confirmed he deals with borderline personality disorder and has dissociative episodes. In this realm, I only deal with episodes of depersonalization so I cannot speak for the rep, but I’m not only pleased to see these issues portrayed in a ya novel (this is the first I’ve ever read!) but pleased with the execution from my education. There are many distinct moments in Ben’s chapters where you can truly see the shift in his thoughts and behaviors and I thought it came across really well.

I have so much more to say but I’m hoping to do a more in depth (spoiler free) review on my channel but I do have one main critique I’d like to mention. I wish we had gotten one more chapter from one character before the story ended. I felt their final thoughts were crucial to the story and they were just missing for some reason I’m not aware of.

Overall, Four Weeks, Five People was fabulous. I cannot recommend it enough.
Profile Image for Grace (BURTSBOOKS).
153 reviews351 followers
January 25, 2020
2.5 stars

What the heck did I just read? This book was all over the place - not even the camp setting could save it
Profile Image for Brooke.
274 reviews137 followers
May 3, 2017
One of my favorite themes in YA is the process of recovery. Count me in for characters with mental illnesses & various disorders- I'm all for MCs I can relate to & root for to heal. So naturally I was excited to read this, but unfortunately it fell short for me.

The premise of FOUR WEEKS, FIVE PEOPLE had a couple of things going for it right off the bat. 1.) a male MC with anorexia (there needs to be more books that have males with eating disorders; there needs to be titles that shows there is hope for them, too). 2.) a character with narcissistic personality disorder (I was so excited to see how this would play out because there isn't too many YA books with that theme, at least not that I'm aware of). Basically, I was hoping for a lot more substance than there actually was.

The novel takes place during the four weeks the characters stay at Camp Ugunduzi. We have: Clarissa, who's obsessive-compulsiveness disorder allows her to find comfort in "safe numbers"; Andrew, who is trying to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band; Ben, who has pretty much checked out from reality & finds his safe haven in films; Mason, who is narcissistic & would rather be anywhere other than CU; Stella who is trying so hard not to feel & angry that she is attending camp for the second year in a row. The diversity of the characters makes it seem like this will be a worthy "recovery" read, but the overall execution & lack of character development made me frustrated & ultimately disappointed with the climax- at which point I felt didn't carry the full impact the author had likely intended.

The biggest problem I had with this was the lack of "recovery". A lot of this book, between the dialogue to the multiple drinking situations (which is fine, if done to add to the story not subtract) made for so many fillers I honestly had such a difficult time finishing, only doing so because I wanted to see if any of the characters would show growth. (Spoiler: nada.) In many other books I've read with this theme there's a lot of MC/therapist back & forth type sessions. This may be cliched, but for the most part ends up working well. Readers can see an obvious difference between the MCs' beginning & end; it is easy to spot the growth & you feel like you learned something here. This was not the case for FWFP. There's no such sessions here, just group therapy (minus weekly weigh-ins & quick side chats) which again can work if done properly. Through these situations I didn't learn anything more about any character by the end than I did when first introduced to them in the early chapters. This left me severely underwhelmed. Why bother creating a story if there is no character growth?

Another thing that really bothered me was the techniques shown to try to heal. Besides discussions of energy & "understanding begets understanding", there were really no effective methods used here. I'm actually surprised by the counselors because you could have fooled me- they didn't act like ones at all. Not having anything to take away from the four weeks spent at camp to use in your life really sucks. And of course the MCs (save one) come back home better (or at least, okay) & somehow equipped with the knowledge to make changes in their lives. Like, what? The turnover between week 1 to 4 felt incredibly unrealistic. I don't mean to sound rude, but there didn't seem to be enough of a struggle here to have the characters see their life as it is & to have the desire to change. I don't know if it's just me but it doesn't make sense. It's almost like the characters have their disorders written next to them, but it's not a part of them. None of the ideas & portrayals are fully flushed out, making it seem like the author just went through a checklist. I HATE when that happens.

The premise ideas that had me excited just left me angry by the turn of the last page. Mason went in an asshole & came out one. Nothing was done to try to help him- so why the hell was he there, other than spew out hurtful comments? I wish Andrew's anorexia was more touched upon; in my opinion he was the character that needed to have the biggest role & just fell to the side. Ugh. The ONLY thing I liked here was Stella's statements about falling in love will not stop your disorder, will not make you better all of a sudden. That cannot be said enough.

It hurts my heart to give this such a low rating, especially since there was such a great potential to help readers, but this was so mediocre & didn't bring anything new to the table. Considering that this is Yu's debut & how difficult it is to write anything at all, I feel more comfortable giving this 2*, although it is logically more closer to 1 for me. I can't attest to whether I'll read any of her future works. I can think of several other YA novels I'd recommend before this one, including HOW IT FEELS TO FLY & PAPERWEIGHT. I wish this had been more enjoyable instead of a read I would have rather just skipped.

*I received an ARC from Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest & unbiased review. Thank you!*
Profile Image for Creya.
332 reviews193 followers
February 19, 2021
Four Weeks, Five People follows a group of teens as they navigate their way through a wilderness therapy summer camp. Jennifer Yu does a great job of depicting various mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, anorexia nervosa, narcissistic personality disorder, and OCD. The book kept my interest enough, but the writing was so elementary that I just didn’t FEEL anything. The therapists often spoke to the teens as though they were toddlers. With such strong topics, I expected my heart to pull toward these characters, and it didn’t.
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,040 reviews117 followers
May 22, 2017
"I can feel the words getting louder and louder with every bounce back until they are vibrating through my head until they are vibrating through my body until they are everything until they are inside me until I am light until I am stars until I am a supernova until I am nothing but words ringing in an infinity of space."

This was labeled as one of the summers top reads and I'm trying to figure out why!? The synopsis is a y.a.'s wet dream and it was extremely hard to make a connection. The story was slow moving with characters that were very stereotyped and cry-babyish. I don't see myself recommending this to anyone.

Five teens come together for four weeks at a wilderness therapy summer camp. They all have their own problems that they are all trying to overcome. With each chapter we get the separate views of each individual character as you learn why they are really at this camp.

Clarissa is obsessive compulsive, Mason believes everyone is an idiot but him, Ben would rather live in a fictional world, Andrew has an eating disorder which he thinks ruined his chance at his band becoming big and Stella is the bitch of the group who has trust issues.

Some of these teens has more bigger issues than the other, but they all know that they need help. With a set schedule they will be able to better handle their situation while also breaking some of the rules.

Will this camp help them overcome their illnesses to have a better life and have a better outlook to the future?

I liked the idea of this camp who helps teens deal with their issues. It's unique compared to all the other mental health ya books out in the world, but I couldn't look past the darkness of most of the characters. They tried a little bit too hard to come off as rule breaking. I didn't see the point of that.

The only character that I felt was genuine was Andrew. His story was the most heartbreaking out of them all and I hope she furthers his story.

The cover is very appealing, but I'm confused by the blandness of the title. I'm sure if she put more thought into it she could have come up with a better title.
Profile Image for Girlwithapen93.
107 reviews2 followers
February 23, 2017
I was sucked into this book from the very first page. With well positioned and well written characters with lives described that made you believe that they were real kids with real mental health issues, who wouldn’t be sucked in? But it was the writing in the book that initially sucked me in and was the only thing that made me keep going back to the book. The first one hundred pages of this book are great, but then from the moment the five teenagers get to camp, it gets confusing. A group of teenagers, with similar, not very well described different mental health illnesses and personality, go to New York to attend a wellness camp, four weeks of group and individual therapy for ill teens.
But here lies the problem with the book: the story is being told from the five teenagers point of view, alternatingly. Every time the chapter changes you must think back to the character who is now talking and their mental illness in particular, to work out why they are acting and thinking the way that they are. It goes from one to another and the story continues but the issues don’t continue.
The other main problem with this book is that it doesn’t allow for the situations to play out. During the camp, the teenagers are charged with creating a cubby house, a safe house, by the end of the book, is it made? Is it finished? Who knows because you don’t really find out. Then there is a major thing that happens which I won’t mention, although you might work it work halfway through the book if you see what is happening. This one event happens and from then on, it is like nothing else that was mentioned previously can be touched or mentioned again.
The book doesn’t end, or it does but not properly enough to make it seem like it has finished. I liked this book initially and it took me a while to get through it because too much happens and as great as it is that there is a diverse young adult book that solely talks about teen mental health issues, I don’t think this one was done right.
I give this book 2.5 out of 5 Booky Stars!
Profile Image for Literary Han.
555 reviews21 followers
December 27, 2018
Now I am not sure what I think about this novel.

I have suffered mental illness for the last 8ish years and have been hospitalised both in general and psychiatric. I like to think that I have some idea of what mental illness entails and how treatment works. Granted I live in the UK and I have three mental illnesses so in other mental disorders I am very much ignorant.

I liked how this book was very much true and did not shy away from the horrors of mental illness. It also showed hope. It was easy to read and I found that the writing flowed. Also I resonated with some of the thoughts the teenagers had.

I did have some negatives however, there was very little character growth in all of the young people. I know that four weeks is very little time to even think about and heal from mental distress. But I did expect to see some growth.

The therapy was virtually non-existent and the counselling was shockingly bad. The therapy in this book was very 'hippy' and not, at all, what I experienced in my own recovery. And is unlike any counselling/therapy I have ever heard of with people with serious mental illness.

I don't know. Like it was an entertaining book but didn't really portray recovery from mental ill health.

I don't know if I would recommend this book. It was okay, but not enlightening or particularly factual.


Profile Image for Jessica C Writes.
547 reviews49 followers
September 23, 2019

I am always looking for books w/ mental illness rep as someone who has OCD & anxiety. This book gave me representation for that, as well as depression, narcissistic personality disorder, anorexia, and dissociation.

While I can only speak to the ocd and anxiety, the rep was so realistic. I could truly feel the pain and emotions that all 5 of these teens were going through. It doesn’t sugar coat mental illness; it tells it how it is.

It also doesn’t have an unrealistic “everything gets better and they all live happily ever after” ending. I really appreciate the way this book handles the subject matter, and I’m so happy I got to experience it and these characters.

The book, though not perfect, was beautiful. I’m really glad I read it.

TW: the above mentioned MIs, panic attacks, suicide/self harm, and possibly more.
Profile Image for Madara .
147 reviews21 followers
September 16, 2018
No vienas puses - YA ar nevienmērīgi sabalansētiem varoņiem un visam pa vidu vēl love story.
No otras puses -
teiksim tā, kamēr es lasīju šo grāmatu, es īsti nebiju happy place. Kaut kādā veidā tā spēja ievilināt sevī un līdzjust varoņiem un arī pašai vairs ne tuvu nejusties labi, izdzīvojot prieka un skumju viļņus viņiem līdzi, tik labi saprotot apsēstību ar "ko citi par tevi padomās", kas izriet no paša aizdomām vien, atceroties tās dažas dienas, kas atzīmēju katru ogu, domājot par tās kalorijām.

Un šis grāmatai ir liels sasniegums. Protams, vēl jāgaida, kā tiks izturēts atmiņas tests.

Vēl pluss par visa neizcukurošanu (par spīti aizdomām). Un par to, ka ne vienmēr visiem viss izdodas.
Par cilvēcību.
Profile Image for Mimi.
386 reviews108 followers
February 28, 2018
In a nutshell, this book follows five teenagers during a summer wilderness therapy camp.
I have to say, this is without a doubt the most mental illness rep I've ever seen in a book: we have characters with severe depression, anorexia, OCD, anxiety, Narcisstic Personality Disorder and Depersonalisation Disorder. I especially appreciated the fact that we have a boy dealing with anorexia, something that's truly rare in fiction, but needs to be spotlighted more.

That being said, I felt like it was a lot of different perspectives and mental illnesses to deal with in a less-than-400-pages-book. Each of the character had their own personality, true, but sometimes I felt like the book fell into stereotypes without trying to, like it was ticking a list of symptoms each character should display. Obviously I can't speak for all of the rep, but some just felt a bit inauthentic to me (at least the ones I canspeak for, but then again, mental illness is different for everyone, so that might have just been my opinion).
There was also a plot twist at the end that could have been handled better, especially considering that we never get a real resolution and are kind of left wondering why and how and when a certain event came to be.
Still, I do appreciate and love the diverse mental illnesses captured in this book and am excited to read more by Yu because her writing style pulled me right into the story.
Profile Image for Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries).
1,212 reviews391 followers
February 12, 2021
See more of my reviews on The YA Kittten! My copy was an ARC I got from the publisher for review.
*Clarisa is Asian, but I don’t believe her identity is clarified any further than that
*Everyone is mentally ill, but not everyone’s mental illness is written well

I would have loved attending a camp for mentally ill teens like the one presented in Four Weeks, Five People when I was still a teen. Not the being-mentally-ill part, of course, but spending a couple of weeks in the wilderness learning coping mechanisms and interacting with other kids who understood what I was going through. So how in the world did a story idea I was completely open to go so wrong in Four Weeks, Five People?

Well, four of our five narrators are uninteresting. The one who was interesting and sees their character fleshed out the most? They get put on a bus at the end of the book via suicide attempt. The reactions of the remaining four are supposed to be the clincher of the book, but it’s hard to care about the suicide attempt’s aftermath effects on them when you don’t care about them in the first place. The “make me care about these kids” ship sailed at about the halfway point of the book, at which point I was still largely apathetic.

I’d name some names to be less vague about it, but it would be a massive spoiler to do that? Sorry.

Anyway, we’ve got Clarisa, who has OCD; Andrew, who has anorexia; Ben, who has a disassociative disorder that leads him to live more in movies than reality; Mason, he of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (AND WE’RE GONNA HAVE SERIOUS WORDS ABOUT HIM); and Stella, who has depression and is angry all the time.

Thanks to that first paragraph, I can’t even let you in on who my favorite is! But I can sure tell you about the two who are poorly written: Ben and Mason.

Ben is straight-up annoying John Green material who tries to spout Profound Things and who deserves a good kick in the cojones for the way he treats Clarisa during their brief fling. Part of it is his illness making him check out, but even when he’s at attention and checked in to the world around him, he’s still a pretentious brat. It’s just not possible for me to be impartial about him! I can own up to this being a personal thing.

Mason’s poor characterization, however, is more clear-cut. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is barely understood and rarely gets written or otherwise portrayed well in media that features it. We tend to associate it with serial killers and other negative figures as well as celebrities. Go Google “people who have narcissistic personality disorder” and see what turns up. I DARE YOU.

Anyway, of the five characters, Mason is closest to the one who fulfills the antagonist role. At the very least, he is the most antagonistic of the group and the one to exhibit the least character growth over the course of the novel. It’s disappointing to see this considering how NPD is often thrown around willy-nilly about anyone without any true, psychologically diagnosed basis for it. It’s just another negative portrayal in a sea of them.

Four Weeks, Five People is poorly paced and not particularly engaging due to a combination of its character-driven nature and its mostly uninspiring characters, but the good intent is there. Even in Mason’s portrayal, Yo clearly wants to bring awareness to NPD. That makes it even more of a shame that the book didn’t work for me.
Profile Image for tiffany’s thoughts.
507 reviews9 followers
March 7, 2018
Trigger Warning: anorexia, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder,suicide, alcohol consumption

2/5 stars. I was hoping to like this book. Liked it and then.... boom went to shit

The beginning was excellent, I was really engaged. Everyone's voice stood out, had all the great elements of a good mental health book and then it just went downhill the last 25%.

Spoilers below cuz fuck it

The characters, overall, were great. My favorite was Andrew, a boy suffering from anorexia. He desperately wants to get better but his own thoughts are crippling him. Mason, at first, I though was funny. He said very asshole-like things but his humor was refreshing. After awhile though, the whole I-want-to-go-home and I-don't-give-a-shit attitude as a result of his narcissistic personality disorder got real old, real fast. Stella and Clarisa were both awesome characters too and Ben was kind of iffy.

This book,to me,is just potential wasted. I left this book thinking "What that it?". It felt very incomplete. I hated the way Andrew's storyline was left unresolved. Like okay yes, he tried to commit suicide but there isn't one chapter in his POV after the matter. We never get to know why; in his own words. The other characters are basically left to reel in the aftermath. Andrew is never heard from again in the book and it pisses me off.

Mason was a character that had ZERO development from start to finish. His contempt for campis the same on the first day as it is on the last day.

The romance between Ben and Clarisa was...stupid. Yes, it was stupid. I honestly would have preferred if Andrew and Stella pursued something after camp (in the form of an epilogue which we clearly didn't get). I felt that the chemistry between Andrew and Stella was 5,000x more genuine than whatever the heck Ben and Clarisa had.

I'm not even mad. I'm disappointed. I was hoping I'd rave about this.
Profile Image for Phelicity (Ur_Book_Buddy).
18 reviews2 followers
June 24, 2017
This book is so important and everything I hoped it to be. I was hooked from the moment I first read the synopsis many months ago. It was one of my favorite and highly anticipated reads of 2017. I am a huge advocate for mental health and spreading awareness about the reality of the various afflictions. I loved this book because of the reality and diversity shown through the different voices and the different fonts used to distinguish and represent the characters (which is one of the best ideas/features I have ever come across). Each character portrayed a particular view of their affliction that may have other wise slipped through the cracks of society. I am so excited and grateful to Jennifer Yu for daring to write something so real and so compelling while also giving a voice to those who otherwise feel drowned out. I cannot fully articulate how this book makes me feel! I will recommend this book as a must read until I am blue in the face. One of my top books of all time! Great job Jennifer!
Profile Image for Jennifer.
817 reviews4 followers
August 28, 2017
The book's summary sounded like a book right up my alley: 5 teenagers dealing with their problems at wilderness camp. But the narrative dragged and the most interesting character, Mason, was hardly given any attention so I consider it a failure.
Profile Image for Samantha Geissler.
561 reviews20 followers
May 3, 2020
Wow, is this really over?!

I ADORED this book. The characters were funny and relatable, the subject matter was important, and the story line was emotional. I laughed out loud at the banter and teared up near the end. The ending was well, but I wanted more! I fell in love with each of the characters and their mental illness, and just wanted to know how their lives continued after camp ended.

Each character is dealing with a different mental illness. One has anorexia (a male), one has Narcissist Personality Disorder, one has OCD, one has manic depression, and the other has depression and honestly, probably some PTSD. As someone who suffers from depression myself, I thought Jennifer Yu did a very good job representing and writing about depression and mental illness. This book easily made it's way into my heart and became one of my favorites of the year. These characters should be protected at all costs honestly.

Also - I loved how one of the character's POV was written as a movie script.. how cool!

"... and how she hopes we always remember that emotional health is something maintained, not simply won."

"You start Prozac. You go to wilderness therapy camp. You try to fall in love, and then you try to fall out of love. And you wait. You wait and you wait and you wait for the second when these things all come together in a flurry of sparks and sunlight and you magically transform into a happy, well-adjusted person who goes to school and has friends and doesn't spend half her days lying in bed trying to remember today's excuse to keep living. You wait so much that you forget that there are things that used to make you happy, that there are kinds of love that make you a better person, that life is worth living even if it really, really sucks."

Profile Image for L-J Lacey.
120 reviews5 followers
March 23, 2018
The trope du jour seems to be mental health. "Four Weeks, Five People" fits very nicely into this category as it is about five teenagers sent away to Camp Ugunduzi (in New York) for the summer. This camp is for mentally ill teens to help them deal with (and possibly overcome) their mental health issues while enjoying a recreational summer holiday.

The story is told from the perspective of all five protagonists - Clarissa, Andrew, Ben, Mason and Stella. They each have their own issues and all they have in common is that they have been assigned to the same cabin. Over the course of the four weeks they are all affected by the camp and each other; some of them come to terms with their illness and how they can live with it, and one of them doesn't change at all.

What Jennifer Yu has done with this book is focus on mental illness. Not as a quirk of the character, not to move the story along, but she truly focus on a major issue in today's society - a topic that is still seen as shameful and needing to be hidden. Books such as this open conversations that need to be had and can help teenagers (and adults alike) experience mental health issues and/or help them know that they are not alone.

Books like this should be compulsory on reading lists in my humble opinion.

Warning: does contain attempted suicide (not graphic) and mentions sex and binge drinking.

Three Four Knock on the Door
Independent Children's Bookshop
Profile Image for Shyuan.
252 reviews32 followers
June 11, 2019
I'm sorry but what happens again? Well, let me tell you, nothing happens at all!

This book sounds so interesting. Come on! A camp to help people suffering from mental illness. I love the idea of this! However, I struggle a lot to get through this. It was so boring and nothing significant happened at all.

All character was just so cliche and doesn't feel authentic. It is a camp for people with mental illness and it had been going on for years so I was expecting all kinds of treatment going on here. But guess what? This book did not talk about it at all. Everyone is not getting better or moving forward. It is a one month camp, I'm okay with a little improvement here but NOTHING! Everyone just remains the same which is very unlikely.

All the teens have a specific diagnosis except for Stella. Even till the end, I'm not sure what wrong with her and I need closure! What frustrated me the most is the teens are able to so much illegal stuff in camp. Like, are security really that bad in that camp? They literally get drunk on their first night of camp. What? Also, a book on mental health camp but without any content of the session or group therapy, how does that even work? We only get a few scenes of the therapist having individual sessions (nothing medical here just random chit chat) and the weekly weigh-ins. Oh come on, at least show a little effort in educating some coping strategies for these teens to bring home after camp. But again, NOTHING!

I'm really pissed that one of the characters who suffer from anorexia fainted in camp. Like wow, seriously no one realized that he is not eating and purging? Are you kidding me? No help or treatment was given to him! Also, nothing was done for a character that has narcissistic personality disorder. He came in like an asshole and leave as one. WOW!

I'm so confused. Because this book will be so much better if it did include all these elements. Moreover, self-harm was casually brought up and I was expecting to have at least a last chapter on that character's POV to talked about the consequences but no. No closure.

Because the story is all over the place and the lacked recovery here. I do not connect to any of the characters here. All of them feel flat and by the end, you didn't learn anything new about them. I mean what's the point in creating a story with no character development?

Sadly, I don't recommend this at all. I feel there are much better books with good mental health representation. For example, Paperweight by Meg Hatson. I just don't think this is a good book.
54 reviews2 followers
January 18, 2019
I really loved this story. It's about five teens with various mental disorders that go to "crazy-people-camp".

The perspective the story is told from switches with every chapter.
Every character has a distinct personality and a unique style of speaking and thinking. I always knew who's chapter I was in even without looking at the chapter's title. I loved to see the events unfold from the perspective of every one of the characters and I could connect with all of them. (Well, except maybe for Mason. But I think that was kind of the point.) The different mental disorders were very well portrayed, as were the counselors/therapists.

There were quite some funny bits, e.g. "They haven't learned that expecting straight answers out of therapists is like standing in the middle of the Sahara with an empty bucket and waiting for rain."

There is a bit of a romance going on in the middle but it wasn't nearly as bad or cringe-worthy as I feared it would be.

The ending was super sad and uplifting at once and had me in tears the whole time.
I really want to know what happens to everyone (including Mason) after the camp, but especially Andrew. I want to know whether he gets better and whether his band makes it and becomes a success.

Favorite quote:
"'People like me'?" he says. "What does that even mean? Depressed people? People who have emotions? People who do stupid things? People like us, Ben. Now shut up and drink water."
Profile Image for Mykenna Dutton.
281 reviews14 followers
July 18, 2018
4.25 stars! I really enjoyed this novel! Stories written with so many different perspectives can really be hit or miss for me, and this book was definitely a hit! Each voice was very distinct, and I loved all of the different representations of mental illness. I love seeing the characters experience their highs and lows while supporting each other throughout the camp. My biggest critique would be that I wish the story was like 20 pages longer. I felt that the pacing was good up until week four and then it seemed to get a little rushed. I wish we could have seen a little bit more of their last week and I really wish we had gotten one more chapter from Andrew's point of view. However, I think this is a fabulous book, and if you are looking to read more novels with themes of mental illness, I would highly recommend it.
Profile Image for McKenna.
112 reviews32 followers
May 8, 2017
*Received free ARC of this novel through a Goodreads giveaway*

I appreciated certain elements that show up in this book, as a novel told exploring several multiple illnesses in teenagers. Told through the perspectives of five different characters over a span of four weeks, readers enter this therapeutic wilderness camp with Andrew, Clarisa, Stella, Mason, and Ben in the hopes (well, this was my hope anyway) of getting a realistic look into living with - and trying to recover from - mental illness as a teen under pressure.

Unfortunately, I was pretty underwhelmed by this. But before I go more into that, let me outline some of what I appreciated here (will try to make it spoiler-free!):

- It briefly spotlights the pressure teens feel from their parents to be "normal". While there's undoubtedly pressure from [Western] society as a whole to fit within certain acceptable standards of sanity, there's a more painful kind of intimacy through which we experience pressure from family and friends. Even if that pressure is misperceived, the stress of trying to be a good son, daughter, or non-binary/trans offspring is most definitely a stressor that deserves more recognition when it comes to teens struggling with mental illness.

- There were some really insightful/realistic passages in there through the perspectives of the characters. By insightful, I mean in their consideration of providing a realistic lens through which to view anorexia, manic depression, anxiety, etc. Just a few gem lines here and there were able to provide depth to what the characters were experiencing on the inside, regardless of how they portrayed themselves on the outside to the rest of the world.

- IT DOESN’T PERPETUATE THE GROSS TROPE OF TREATMENT CENTER ROMANCE. Disregarding any truth to the cringe-worthy trope of finding the love of your life in a psych ward or treatment center for a psychiatric disorder, I was really pleased that it is instead viewed with a more critical lens here. While these spaces are somewhat perfect to create long-lasting, intimate relationships with other people due to the emotional intensity of the environment, it’s also important to be able to understand the importance of boundaries and recognizing how relationships made between people who are ill can become unhealthy and ultimately harmful to one or both sides. And I do believe the author explores this rather well in the last half of the book.

Now, the overarching criticism I have regarding this novel is that there is an underwhelming lack of development, both with the plot and with the characters. Granted, a couple characters get some appreciable development by the end, but overall, the progression of this was disappointing.

I don’t necessarily support the criticism stating disappointment about the characters not recovering by the end or whatever, because that would have really made it unrealistic to me. Four weeks, people. You don’t recover with happy rainbows and a unicorn ride to the best future imaginable in four weeks.

But maybe the larger thing is that, by the end, it seems that the novel has explored the relationships between the characters more fully than their mental illnesses; which isn’t bad, necessarily, but might make the synopsis somewhat misleading?

In addition, I’m not sure the multiple-POV thing works. Splitting into five different character POVs made it difficult to form attachment to the characters. One idea: just totally kick Mason out of the story. Think about how much space that would open up. Because, for real, I’m not sure what his purpose as a character is. He experiences absolutely no character development - I would argue, based on his sections even at the end - and basically serves to be the asshole of the novel. Maybe he symbolizes the ignorant stigma so many people still place on those who struggle with mental health, but goddamn, you’d still hope by the end then that he would have learned something. But nope. Does everybody who spends time with mentally ill individuals come out on the other side more educated and sympathetic? Nah, I doubt it. But within the context of this book, I don’t think Mason’s character served any purpose, and that bothered me.

Description of the setting was also lacking. There was little mention of campers outside of the five MC’s block, and little mention of staff outside of those that attended them directly as well. Everything was confined, and especially in choosing such a setting for a book, you’d expect it to be expanded upon more fully, particularly in its institutional structure and all. Instead, there’s description of the physical setting - the woods, the Safe Space cabin or whatever - but little space given to explaining how the program is supposed to work.

I don’t think this is a bad novel. There are some baaaad novels out there that butcher both the treatment setting and mental illness through gross stereotypes. I don’t get that vibe here really at all; mostly, it’s just a lack of development. There could have been more. Which is weird to say considering how long this book is, because I don’t feel like it needs to be longer per say. I just find myself wondering how it could be so long and still feel so bare. It reads as kind of a skeleton outline only half filled-in. It could have done more in exploring the different mental illnesses the characters experience, it could have done more to explore the various factors that affect psychological health, it could have explained the wilderness camp program better, etc.

Kudos to the author for her debut novel though. Thank you for not butchering what it’s like to struggle with mental illness.

3/5 stars
Profile Image for Becca Akins.
988 reviews61 followers
October 7, 2018
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Depression, Narcisstic Personality Disorder, OCD, Anorexia, Dissociative Episodes, & Sucide

I connected to this story on a deeply personal level. These characters and the progression of their time in a group therapy setting reminded me of my time in Intensive Outpatient and of the people I shared that time with. This book is beautiful and real.
The attention to detail in this book especially in regards to formatting each characters POV and chapters shows how deeply Jennifer Yu cares about this story and being realistic as possible in her portrayals of the different mental illnesses featured in this book.
I loved it and highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Alex.
134 reviews
September 22, 2019
I really enjoyed this book.

A YA novel focused on various mental health issues is so overdue - especially one done in such a raw and captivating light.

The characters were well thought-out and each had their own path in the novel.

I would’ve liked to see some of their traits more fleshed out however I enjoyed this book a lot. I believe it to be an important read, primarily if you’re looking to educate yourself on some of the current mental illnesses plaguing this world and its youth.
Profile Image for Kristen.
966 reviews16 followers
June 1, 2017
But the thing is, there's a part of me that's scared. There's a part of me that doesn't want to grow, or change, or let anyone help me get through this stupid problem. Because sometimes it feels like it's everything I have. Or everything I even am.

For four weeks of the summer, five troubled teens find themselves at a therapy wilderness camp. All five of them have different disorders, and all five of them are in various stages of willingness to get better. As the weeks go on, the teens find themselves bonding together, discovering things that they never would have thought possible for themselves.

Well. Let's just say that I had really high expectations for this book, mostly because I'm a psychology nerd, but also because the last book I read that had a similar synopsis - How It Feels to Fly - turned out to be utterly amazing. So here I was expecting something that really pulled at my emotions, but I didn't get that. I'm giving this book 2 stars, because it was simply an okay read.

The book has five narrators: the five teens that make up the 1L block at Camp Ugunduzi. There is Stella, who is deeply depressed and is one of few second-time campers. She's pretty much given up on the world, and doesn't believe that camp can help her. Andrew is a musician who dreams of playing music for a living. He has anorexia, and while he desperately wants to get better, he fears gaining weight. Clarisa has OCD. She counts to feel safe, and feels so deeply that even though she has her doubts, she can't not be affected by her time at camp. There is Ben, a movie aficionado who has a dissociative disorder; he would rather live his life like it's a movie, and sometimes he struggles with the concept of realness. And lastly, there's Mason, who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and thinks that everyone around him are idiots. He doesn't believe that this camp can help him, and that no one else is going to be helped by it, either.

The characterization is somewhat lopsided, with only a handful of characters offering helpful or interesting narration to the story. The others were obnoxious or otherwise completely unnecessary to the story, and to have such a separation between the two groups was odd. Andrew and Clarisa are probably my favorite characters; their stories felt so real, despite the fact that I have no personal experience with either of their disorders. Stella, who was sometimes pretty bitchy and angry, was totally negative, but she was brutally honest and offered realistic ideas.

And then there are Ben and Mason. Neither one of them have disorders that are very well known, which I at first looked forward to. But Ben's parts of the story were sometimes overwhelming in their dramatic imagery - not to mention that he devolved into a jerk at some point in the story. And then there was Mason, who was just a jerk throughout the novel and whose existence only offered negative comments. As a psychology nerd, I liked to see such an unknown disorder come to light, and his personality was actually fairly befitting of the disorder. As an aspiring writer, I recognized the challenge of his character and appreciated the effort that was put into it. But as a reader, I found Mason completely insufferable and honestly wished his space was used for more plot development.

My next disappointment was a lack in the focus of recovery. The whole purpose of this book was that these teens are working on their recovery from their various mental health issues. It's slightly unrealistic for the teens to find all the answers in such a few number of weeks, but other books have managed with amazing storytelling. What I think sets this book apart is the fact that while they have two guidance counselors - Josh, a hippie who focuses on the energy of nature, and Jessie, a straight-laced therapist - there doesn't really feel like any of them spend much time talking about their issues. There are a handful of group therapy scenes, and a few scenes in which they discuss things on the side, but there was just something... missing for me.

Not to mention the hasty romance, which felt tacked on, in my opinion. The two characters who fall into a summer romance weren't characters that I personally saw anything between. It was simplistic and just not convincing enough for me.

What earned the second star for me was the in-depth portrayal of some lesser known psychological disorders. Everyone knows about depression, and plenty know about anorexia and OCD. But dissociative disorder - specifically depersonalization/derealization - and NPD are things that not everyone knows about. I sincerely appreciated the fact that these lesser known disorders were brought to light. And I also liked the fact that the honesty of these disorders alludes to extensive research.

Four Weeks, Five People just didn't live up to my expectations. It took me much longer to get through than I originally anticipated simply because it wasn't as heartwarming as I wanted it to be. It was simply an okay book, but not one that I would imagine would come to mind the next time I recommend a book to someone.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
431 reviews
May 18, 2017
actual rating:3.25 it actually left a bit of an impact on me and i connected to the characters a bit more by the middle and the end but there was close to no character development and it dragged at times some parts i had to skim but i enjoyed it
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