Karen Fortunati - The weight of Zero

"Pain is the pain. So sit in this room. The point is to learn how to cope safely with the pains."

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 when Zero next arrives.
But Zero’s return is delayed. Unexpected relationships along with the care of a new psychiatrist start to alter Catherine's perception of her diagnosis. But will this be enough? This is a story of loss and grief and hope and how the many shapes of love – maternal, romantic and platonic – impact a young woman’s struggle with mental illness.
The manuscript was awarded the 2014 SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant in the Contemporary YA category, named a finalist in the 2015 Tassey-Walden Awards and won the Serendipity Literary Agency 2013 YA First Page/Novel Discovery Contest.

This year, I find myself reading more and more books about certain diseases. More and more publishers make way for works in this kind of topic nowadays. In the beginning, I felt like I don’t need to read another book about this subject, but then I changed my mind very-very soon. After reading the synopsis, I grew curious and felt like „I need to read this”. I’ve learned a lot from other books about this topic, so I thought this is a ’’win-win” situation. I felt a sturdy need to step into the topic of BD with this book. Have I learned anything from this book? My answer would be a firm yes. I found out, that previously I’ve known nothing about Bipolar Disorder before, and how reliant you are to others while dealing with this disorder.

As far as I know, this is the first book of the writer, and I was genuienly surprised by this. The book is written about a very difficult topic, yet it provides a deep insight into the life of someone who is dealing with this mental illness. 
Cover: 5/5

I was fascinated by the cover, and I just simply can’t imagine how could it be any better. I felt like the colors are representing zero itself, and she is in the middle of it, yet does not know what to do next. Nonetheless, the cover is interesting on it’s own.

About the plot:

Catherine gave the name „zero” to the depression that pulls her . These days are the ones where she feels like she can’t go on anymore. We get to know early , that she is only in grade 3, and the darkness already came for her, which resulted in a suicide attempt. These facts have already put weight on my shoulders before even the novel begins. Later on, we learn that she didn’t give up on suicide yet, and that she hides medicine in a shoebox, ready to kill herself anytime. 

It gives an interesting emotional burden type of twist to the novel. I just couldn’t believe that a shoebox filled with medicine for the purpose of suicide could provide safety to a teen.I had to continue reading, I had to know what is going on, what will happen next. I wanted to see what lies inside her head,  She started writing a bucket-list type of thing, about stuff that made her happy. I felt like no one thought about what is going on with her. She watched her grandmother die, and that could possibly be the reason for her bipolar disorder, She told her friends about this, but instead of supporting her, they turned away from her.I was quite surprised, that she was not sad about this. 

She knew it well, that zero will come for her again. She wanted to live her life to the fullest until zero makes weight once more.. again. There were a lot of heartwarming segments throughout the novel, Nonny for example. I grew to love Michael’s grandmother very quickly.

The writer could write about this illness flawlessly, there were a lot of loveable characters, and a lot of them were very-very negative. (Somehow, this „dualism” is always present at YA novels.). There were a lot of absent-minded characters, who kicked into her instead of supporting her or just ignoring her.The novel represents perfectly, that the beginning of a new chapter of your life can cause you to lose a lot of friends, yet gain new ones in the process.Her need to be needed & loved made her character feel real. She had to fight her disease and her own personality, yet she got to experience a lot of things. A lot of white lies & blatant deceptions were coloring her already complicated life in the novel, yet she remained strong and good-willed. She possessed a will to live, that she was evidently lacking at the beginning of the novel

My favourite characters:

A lot of people took a room in my heart, but I would like to only mention Cath and Nonny.

Cath: She is a very strong girl, who despite her insecurities, still remained strong . Her relation with her mother was interesting, that later on she couldn’t open up for her , because she didnt want to hurt her. At the end of the novel, I became very proud of her, because I know well how many people are struggling with this disorder day-by-day.

Nonni: She is one of the „lighter” characters in the novel, no matter what you do, you will grow to love her eventually.I think every novel should contain a character like her, these lighthearted characters always work well with this genre. I couldn’t imagine a more fitting character than her. She represents the unconditional love in this novel.

Thank you for coming in.
Sweetie, Patti. :)


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