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Juliet the Maniac

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,357 ratings  ·  211 reviews
A shockingly dark, funny, and heartbreaking portrait of a young teenager's clash with mental illness and her battle toward understanding and recovery

Ambitious, talented 14-year-old honors student Juliet is poised for success at her Southern California high school. However, she soon finds herself on an increasingly frightening spiral of drug use, self-harm, and mental illne
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Melville House
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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,357 ratings  ·  211 reviews

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Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was ok

"It is hard to tease out the beginning. When I was living it, my disintegration seemed sudden, like I had once been whole but then my reality swiftly slipped apart into sand. Not even sand, but slime, something desperate and oozing and sick. But looking back - I was a slow burn that eventually imploded."

Juliet Escoria has moments of literary brilliance, I mean just read that opening quote.

This book, however, fell really flat for me.

It's a fiction book that re
Bud Smith
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really great novel. It’s about a teenage girl who loses her mind and goes looking for it in an institution. Reading this reminded me how great art can be when it’s wounded and weird and funny and strange where the heart is. Takes place in the 90s, back blurb compares it to the Bell Jar and Girl, Interrupted. I thought it was its own beast. I thought it was wild and fun, and devastating, and cool.
Scott Mcclanahan
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Uh huh. Get ready.
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Let me begin with the fact the this book is absolutely terrifying. Not in the thriller way, but in the but-for-the-grace-of-god-there-go-I (or worse, my kids) way. Most terrifying of all, though this is classified as fiction, it feels undoubtedly autobiographical.

Juliet is well adjusted, smart "normal" teenager until she's not. When she's not, she's a bipolar, homicidal, suicidal, hallucinating, self-harming, drug taking, sexually active 16-year-old. She spirals so deeply and so quickly that she
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I've been struggling for a few days over how to review Juliet the Maniac. From reading other reviews on here it seems a lot of people went into this with totally the wrong expectations (either being misled by the cute coloured cover or the apparent YA categorisation on Netgalley) but that isn't what I'm struggling with - it was in fact exactly what I thought it would be, albeit even better.

This is some stellar auto fiction which (seemingly, it's hard to be sure) draws closely on the author's own
Infectiously readable and excellently executed, Juliet the Maniac is a brilliant cross between memoir and fiction. Escoria packs a million little punches, reminding the reader just how much truth is written into these page, sharing some of the most personal moments of her teenage years via scans of the letters she wrote, her initial hospital bracelet, and patient evaluation statuses.

Cracking the book open, I was worried that I'd focus too heavily on the blending of fact vs fiction, wondering wh
Jessica Sullivan
Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
“Not once did anyone ever talk about what it was like when the trauma was yourself.”

This stark, unsentimental novel puts readers inside the head of Juliet, a teenager in the late 1990s battling bipolar disorder, drug addiction, and suicidal ideation.

The first-person narrative is cleverly supplemented with reports from therapists and psychiatrists on Juliet’s diagnosis, behavior and condition to juxtapose her internal perspective with the external.

While it’s a raw and candid account of an adolesc
Aga Durka
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 Haunting Stars!

“ …I truly felt like I had a broken brain. Except it wasn’t even my brain. It was a brain of a homicidal maniac. She was trying to kill me…”

A story told by a 14-year-old Juliet, is a story of drug addition, mental illness, and teenage rebellion. This is an unapologetic, raw, and ruthlessly honest account of a young girl’s struggle to fight the demons of mental illness. It was a heart-wrenching, dark, and horrifying read for me, but I admired Juliet’s ability to distance herself
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I couldn't possibly do this book justice by reviewing it. It was SO incredible and so accurate in all of her descriptions from the way that she felt to psychiatric hospitalization to the effects that the different drugs have. I found pieces of myself in Juliet's story, frequently snapping pictures of certain pages or jotting lines down in my notebook. Honestly, I'll have to buy a copy so that I can highlight the crap out of it (I don't think the library would appreciate that much). Beautifully d ...more
Ben Loory
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
this one hit really close to home and i had to read it in spaced-apart bits. the hardest parts were the photocopied notes and letters and diary entries. heartbreaking book; it'll wake you up, but it'll hurt.
May 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF - i tried to like this, i wanted to like this, and at first i did. But after part one it got very boring and redundant. It was the same thing over and over and felt more like an edgier YA book with lots of drug use and sex. It just didn’t seem to be going anywhere. I get that it was more so an autobiographical novel and i feel bad giving someone else’s trauma 1 Star but the way it was delivered In diary form just really didn’t keep me invested, i hope anyone who is excited for this book love ...more
Esther Espeland
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very cool book about mental illness! Really enjoyed the structure of short vignettes
Brutal. This book reads far more like fiction than it does a memoir, and I mean that in the best way possible since I tore through it, completely unable to put it down. I haven't come across a book that describes what it's like having bipolar disorder as well as this one does, and there were so many moments where I couldn't breathe because a particular example or story of Juliet's sounded so much like one of my own personal experiences before I was on some damn good medication. Juliet's wild emo ...more
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book made me uncomfortable in the best way possible. I usually find it challenging, at this point in my life, to read books from the teen daughter's perspective. This book was so well-done my skin was crawling and I had to take breaks to get my breath. What I often find challenging is understanding the cross-section of teenage behavior and mental illness. Escoria did a brilliant job by clouding the issue of agency. The confusion of the narrator, Juliet, was wrought so well that I had to ima ...more
La La
This book is not YA and I stress this point. It's adult fiction about a teenager. I was relieved when I saw no one had shelved it as Young Adult and I hope it stays that way. It sends a bad message about a lot of things and the sexual content is vulgar and graphic.

I don't usually attach *trigger warnings*, but this book doesn't even need a list because I'm sure there is something in the story to unsettle most everyone. I got off easy because I didn't come across any serious animal abuse which is
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dark and beautiful and so well-written. An extremely empathetic story for anyone who's ever dealt with mental illness. Every raw thought and emotion is both so eloquent and believable as the voice of the teenaged narrator. This book kept me up at night.
Olivia L
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
From what I posted on Instagram:

I. loved. this. I read it in almost one sitting; I wanted to keep reading but fell asleep four hours in, after it literally plopped on my doorstep and I ran out to grab it. I’d ordered it with the new one-day shipping on Prime, which I felt sort of guilty about, but I somehow knew I would love it and wanted to read it immediately. There were SO MANY beautiful lines, but I managed to just underline this one -- "We ran around in the sand, splashing in the shallow p
♥ Kym
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
I hate that I have a weakness for a shade of pink book covers.


I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest book review.

It’s very disturbing. Sure, the character is experiencing mental health issues and it's not something light to discuss, it was brave for the author to tell Juliet’s story, how she was able to write what was happening to the character’s mind, and I don’t expect perfection or a good plot because the mi
Juliet Escoria is the current wife of Scott McClanahan, whose novel The Sarah Book I reviewed last. I received both books through my subscription to The Nervous Breakdown Book Club. The Sarah Book had been languishing on my pile of unread TNB books so when I received Juliet the Maniac recently I decided to read the two books back to back. I admit to a bit of voyeurism in wanting to see how these two writers came to be married. Ha! I learned not a thing about that.

Juliet's book is a fictionaliz
Kevin Maloney
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Confession: I think most books are boring. Like, I slog through them--blah blah blah--and mostly I'm just excited to get to the end. JULIET THE MANIAC is the opposite. I had fun reading every page of this book. Juliet cuts the bullshit. She's an amazing storyteller without being overly fancy or lofty or dramatic. The novel has drawings and letters and feels like a genuine diary of a dark past without being sentimental or nostalgic. Read, read, read this. 1000/1000 stars.
Jaclyn Crupi
Jul 11, 2019 rated it liked it
There’s a long tradition of novels about teenage girls suffering mental illness and this fits nicely into the genre. I was captivated throughout and loved Juliet’s voice. But perhaps being the next in a long line of books with similar subject matter means you expect something more. Escoria is married to Scott McClanahan and I feel like I know them both intimately as their fiction feels so personal. I don’t of course but still it’s an interesting feeling.
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the type of book that reminds me why writing and reading are so important. Reading a book like this and recognizing a bit of yourself is realizing that, even if it’s fiction, there’s someone else out there who has been through what you have. Someone else who feels what you feel. You don’t have to be alone. It is so comforting, and I wish I’d read more books like these when I was a teenager.

I’m not entirely sure, but I think this book must be in part based on the author’s own personal exp
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The truth about mental illness is uglier than a pair of Teva Ember Moc shoes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. Why? Escoria, did a remarkable job at showing the genuine suffering of those with mental illness and the sacrifices and grief those near and dear to them also must endure.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand what is involved in a day in the life of a mentally ill person.
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, fiction
Very intense but readable. Juliet is and could be anyone you meet on the street. By the time you finish, you know her and are cheering for her. Good stuff, although subject matter might scare them away
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on adolescent mental illness. Unfortunately, the protagonist could not have been more one-dimensional. First quarter of the book was brimming with potential only to end up being tedious and dull. Better luck next time, I suppose.
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

The opening is iconic, how each element builds: first, the simple chord progression – E major to C sharp minor, G sharp to A major – strummed on an acoustic guitar, working in tandem with high-pitched background vocals yelping “wooo ooooh”. Next, a snare drum acting as an emergency flare, all but signaling the entrance to THE RIFF, one so celebrated it would be easy to forget what immediately follows. And yet it’s what comes next – the opening verse – that’s most impactful:

“With your f
Jul 11, 2019 rated it liked it
The revelatory descriptions and observations that made Black Cloud, in its fragmentation, one of my favourite books seem to be most densely concentrated at the start, which is, perhaps, understandable, or perhaps because it most clearly mirrors my own experience, the weird wasteland of adolescent mental health intervention. Either way, a good book to get me back into reading, if, perhaps inevitably, hopefully, relatively briefly.

Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review to follow.
Heather Pearson
Oct 13, 2019 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: ya
I read over 40% of this book and just could not warm to it. The mood was too down/dark and could not imagine every recommending it to a customer.
Shannon McLeod
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was incredible. Intense, funny, tender, deeply relatable for my teenage — heck, and current — self. You need to read this.
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JULIET ESCORIA is the author of the novel JULIET THE MANIAC, forthcoming from Melville House in May 2019. She also wrote the poetry collection WITCH HUNT (Lazy Fascist Press 2016) and the story collection BLACK CLOUD (CCM/Emily Books 2014), which were both listed in various best of the year roundups. Her writing can be found in places like Lenny, Catapult, VICE, Prelude, Dazed, and Hobart and has ...more

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Lori Hettler is the founder and moderator of The Next Best Book Club, one of the most popular groups on Goodreads, and has been a reader and...
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