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The Lightness of Hands

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  390 ratings  ·  88 reviews
Sixteen-year-old Ellie Dante is desperate for something in her life to finally go right. Her father was a famous stage magician until he attempted an epic illusion on live TV—and failed. Now Ellie lives with her dad in a beat-up RV, attending high school online and performing with him at birthday parties and bars across the Midwest to make ends meet.

But when the gigs dry u
ebook, 400 pages
Published April 14th 2020 by Balzer + Bray
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Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  390 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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😱 Bipolar II rep! I don’t think i’ve ever, ever, ever even HEARD of a book with a mc, or any other character for that matter, that has bipoar II. Fingers crossed that it is correctly portrayed. 🤞🏻
Bipolar Depression is seriously underrepresented & I am super excited for this !
Sara Santana
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
***This review originally posted on What A Nerd Girl Says***

I think that anyone can write a book about a character with bipolar disorder. Anyone can write a book about a tumultuous relationship with a parent. Anyone can write a book about tough friendships and the ups and downs of navigating a relationship. But there is something so unique and magical – literally – about this book and I blew through it in a matter of hours.

Jeff has a way of making characters stand out and jump off the page. Elli
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the author for sending me an ARC of this book!

Jeff Garvin has a serious talent for making characters feel very real. I was immediately sympathetic for Ellie's many stressors - living with Bipolar II, worrying about her father's health, living life on the road with their funds quickly diminishing...
And rooting for her so much as she tries to turn their lives around.
This novel will appeal to so many of my teen readers - a road trip story, a great cast of characters, and a terrific en
People think depression is the same as sadness, a blue gauze that descends to tint the world a shade darker. But in truth, it’s like a snowfall of ash, obscuring the color and the taste of everything.

Wow, this book was really the thing that drove it all home for me. I ordered a copy in the mail for a few days and I was so anxious for the book to finally come, and when it did, I was not disappointed. I was enchanted the whole time.

As a whole, I feel like some details were choppy and I wis
Jul 17, 2020 added it
first off, huge TW for suicide, suicidal ideation, and self harm in this book. (the book actually had trigger warnings at the beginning, which should be more common!)

I think the title is really ironic, considering how heavy this book really is. This is #ownvoices for bipolar II, and the author takes such care and detail with the portrayal. I admired the way her mental illness was incorporated throughout the book: bipolar affects all aspects of Ellie's life and how she interacts with the world wh
Samantha (WLABB)
Her father was a rising star on the magic scene until he attempted a grand illusion, The Truck Drop, on live television and failed. Since then, a lot had changed. Her father had fallen from grace, and Ellie's life had become less stable. Though she was struggling with managing her bipolar disorder, she knew she had to help her dad redeem himself. This would be their last shot, and Ellie was determined to help her dad reclaim the magic that had once destroyed him.

I must admit, I was very intrigue
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half is a bit slow, and the book overall is just too long. 400 pages is a lot for this story. But in all, it is both charming and insightful. While the plot is about Ellie trying to get her dad to LA in hopes of reviving his career, the real point of the story is her struggle with bipolar II, grief, guilt, poverty, loneliness, and father-daughter dynamics. The author does a good job of making Ellie relatable and educating readers on what it is like to deal with mental illness on top of ...more
Curtis Andersen
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to start by saying that this book is good. You should read it, hands down (no pun intended).

That out of the way...

This has been a tough review for me to write. Part of what makes the book so good is also what made it take forever for me to finish - it feels very real. Our main character, Ellie, suffers from bipolar II (that's not a spoiler, it's on the flap) and the struggles that she has, as well as the reaction that characters around her have, are just a bit too familiar.

I do not have
Shar | sunsnacksseries
Trigger warning: self harm & suicide

A YA book with bipolar 2/depression rep? SIGN ME UP.

Mental health is such an important subject, and I’m happy it’s being featured more often in books, especially YA fiction.

The Lightness of Hands was a wonderful read. Sixteen year old Ellie Dante lives in an RV with her father, who happens to be a magician, and is forced to battle her Bipolar II disorder after running out of medication she can no longer afford. They’re broke, and Ellie is tired of doing all of
This book was simply okay. I went into this book knowing absolutely nothing except it featured a girl with bipolar disorder, and while I thought the bipolar rep was pretty great, I didn't really care for the plot or character relationships.

While I don't have bipolar II myself, by the end of the book, I better understood the highs and lows of someone who much suffer from this disorder, and by reading other reviews I saw that a lot of other people were very impressed by this representation and how
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved everything about this fast read. I loved the father/daughter relationship. I loved the magic. I loved the friendships. But my favorite thing about this book was the mental health aspect.

I have never read any other book where a fictional character had bipolar II. It’s the one we don’t really hear about and so many of us struggle with it, so it was great to see it portrayed in such an accurate way.

Big props to Garvin for presenting Ellie’s mental health struggles in a realistic fashion and
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have bipolar 2 and it's very rare that a book with a bipolar character discusses bipolar 2. It almost always focuses on one. A lot of people don't realize there's a difference.

I connected with a lot of things in this story. There were quotes that really stood out. I basically finished this book in one sitting and it's been a long while since I've done that.

Going to be reading the other book by this author next.
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Brian
Cover Story: Lovely Assistant
Drinking Buddy: Non-Alcoholic
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (adult situations, language, alcohol use)
Talky Talk: Misdirection
Bonus Factors: Heist, Stage Magic
Bromance Status: May I Have a Volunteer?

Read the full book report here.
Madeleine Sullivan
4.5 stars. This book was so great, and it had actual representation for mental health that WASN’T romanticized like other YA tends to do.
Gabrielle Gosnell
I loved it! It was exciting and surprising until the end! I loved how Ellie’s mental health got better and how she didn’t lose hope.
Apr 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I received a copy of this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway.

There is a lot going on in this book. Ellie, the narrator, is a teenager who's enrolled in online high school, while she assists her father, a disgraced magician, in booking small gigs to support themselves while they drive around in an RV. Ellie is bipolar, her father has heart problems, they're running out of medication and money, and they need to get to California to recreate a big magic trick that derailed her father's career ye
Jill Paz
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
This book really moved me. It's one of the most rawly honest takes on what it's like to be young with a mental illness. Or any age really. I think the way Garvin writes about the ways mental illness can warp our sense of worth, reality, logic, proportion, etc., is really effective and rings so true for me. Especially how "knowing" about how your illness works to trick you and being able to do something about that when you're in a bad spot are VERY different things. Also, the questions the main c ...more
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Magic, Bipolar II, life on the road—THE LIGHTNESS OF HANDS is another ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ by
Jeff Garvin (𝔪𝔞𝔰𝔱𝔢𝔯 of writing best friends)! Just finished the ARC & it got me just like SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN, one of my all-time favorites. Highly recommended!
Rajasree Jayaram
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This was a well-written book about a teenage girl suffering from bipolar II, living on the road with her disgraced magician of a father who is offered a chance to turn their lives around.

I picked up this book because of the lovely cover, the intriguing title and the description which promised stage magic. I finished Loveless recently, and the covers of the two books are very similar in terms of colour, so much that I accidentally tapped on this one instead while I wasn't yet done with Loveless.
Bethany Miller
Being the daughter of a traveling magician isn’t easy. For Ellie and her father, the Uncanny Dante, it means living out of an RV and making ends meet by playing birthday parties and weddings. Unfortunately, the pay isn’t great and there are no health insurance benefits to cover the meds that would help Ellie deal with bipolar II disorder and treat her father’s heart problems. This lifestyle also isn’t conducive to going to school, so Ellie struggles to complete classes online and has only one fr ...more
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book reminded me of For a Muse of Fire, even though that was a fantasy adventure and this is contemporary realism. And I mean that as a very favorable comparison. In both books:
-The bipolar protagonist actually has an identity beyond just being bipolar
-The character participated in a plot that went beyond "look at me be bipolar"
-There were sympathetic secondary characters, including family members
-Managing bipolar was a significant motivation for the character - in other words, bipolar
Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own.

I loved this book. Garvin's earlier work (The Symptoms of Being Human ) is a book that I still reference and recommend to readers so when I saw that he was publishing another work, I knew I had to read it. I worried, for a moment, that it wouldn't live up to my expectations, but I shouldn't have. It exceeded my expectations and I am so, so, so glad to have read it.

Part r
kglibrarian  (Karin Greenberg)
It's not often that a young adult book tackles teenage issues from a completely original angle. Jeff Garvin not only manages to use the backdrop of magic to create a fresh plot in which to embed the characters, but he also takes on the issues of mental illness, suicide, and relationships with directness and honesty.

Ellie Dante, a sixteen-year-old living in an old RV with her father, struggles to get through each day. Her dad, a formerly famous magician who lost his reputation after a trick went
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book I’ve read featuring a main character with bipolar disorder (specifically bipolar II), and I thought it was very well written; I learned a lot about bipolar II through Ellie’s point of view and I appreciate the fact that the author incorporated his own experiences into it.
I’ve always found magic to be incredibly cool, so I loved reading about it from the point of view of a teenage girl who grew up around it because of her father and ended up having a true talent for it. Th
Thunder chan
This book made me feel something because it made my heart race in certain spots. Mainly the beginning and the performance parts. The warning at the beginning of the book really threw me off and I was questioning what I was getting myself into.
Most of the time while reading this book I was sitting there, tut tut tut, and thinking, Oh, not a good idea gurl...
Page 249 was REAL. DEEEEP. Yeah. I don't have much more to say about that point other than it was pretty deep.
Towards the end, whe
Cyndy Deleon
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I flew through this book. It was wonderful. But.... I live in Las Vegas. And it drives me crazy when books tall about Vegas and get things wrong. This book had all these real life things, but then it was mixed with things that were totally made up.
And if you were driving here from Phoenix, you would take the 93/95 through Kingman straight to Vegas. But you would have to take the 95 to the 15 south to drive down the strip starting at Sunset. And you would have passed old Vegas on the way. And La
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I shouldn’t have taken so long to read this book. Jeff Garvin amazes me again as he leads me through the story of Ellie, a girl dealing with bipolar II, friendships, relationships, being her dad’s manager, and near-total homelessness. This book made me laugh, this book made me cry. This book make me break down sobbing on the floor of my living room at 3 in the morning. I never get this invested.

If you’re wondering If you should read this book— yes. Period. Do it. It is BEAUTIFUL and as an added
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
First of all can I say: I am ever so grateful that the author put a trigger warning in before you start the book. To me, it wasn't even all that triggering, but I have been triggered by other books in the past that have refrained from putting warnings, and lemme just say, it is super considerate to add those warnings when you can.
Coming from someone who struggles with mental illness and that lovely suicidal ideation, this book really validated me and my feelings. Its main message is that your i
Joseph Wilbur
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had to wait a day to process everything before writing this review. What an amazing ride. If you have taken the time to look through my book lists, then you may have noticed that The Lightness Of Hands by Jeff Garvin is not typically the type of book I read.
It is not science fiction. It is not fantasy. It is not horror. What it is, is an honest and heartfelt story. A peek into the thought processing of someone who has bipolar II.
As with his first book, Symptoms Of Being Human, it offered m
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Jeff Garvin is an author, musician, and actor. His debut novel, Symptoms of Being Human, is an ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, a Goodreads Choice Semifinalist, and garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly. Before becoming a novelist, Jeff acted on TV and toured as the lead singer of a rock band. He has a BFA in Film from Chapman Un ...more

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