BOOK REVIEW: “Black Box” by Julie Schumacher

Title: Black Box
Author: Julie Schumacher
Publication: March 9, 2010
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre: Teens, YA Fiction
Pages: 176

Black Box


SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

WHEN DORA, ELENA’S older sister, is diagnosed with depression and has to be admitted to the hospital, Elena can’t seem to make sense of their lives anymore. At school, the only people who acknowledge Elena are Dora’s friends and Jimmy Zenk—who failed at least one grade and wears blackevery day of the week. And at home, Elena’s parents keep arguing with each other. Elena will do anything to help her sister get better and get their lives back to normal—even when the responsibility becomes too much to bear.


Elena’s sister, Dora, suffers from depression. Elena’s parents are all consumed with how to help Dora get better. So much so that they ignore how Dora’s illness is affecting Elena. Even though this story is largely about Dora and her battle with depression, it is also every bit about her sister Elena and how she has to cope with her sister’s issues. The book makes the point several times that depression is not something that just affects one person in a family. It is real, and it affects everyone. In this very genuine and clever novel by Julie Schumacher, readers explore how a family tries to cope with another member’s real life struggles.

This book is excellent. It is honest, gripping, witty, and concise. Told from Elena’s point of view, the story engaged me from start to finish. Elena learns pretty quickly that something is wrong with Dora. Having little communication with her parents, since they struggle to even admit Dora’s problems in front of her, Elena seeks out a classmate named Jimmy to regularly confide in. With depression having run in Jimmy’s family and his mother being a psychiatrist, Jimmy feels he can offer Elena advice or a listening ear. The two form a pretty unique friendship, and Elena seeks refuge in him quite a bit. It really is an endearing little bond they forge.
Dora and Elena also have a special relationship as sisters. Only a few years apart, they obviously have a lot of shared experiences, which Schumacher references on occasion throughout the novel. Dora and Elena even have a secret code language, which was one of my favorite things in the book. Though Elena struggles to understand Dora’s depression, she is undeniably faithful to her. And even though Dora doesn’t always show it, she loves Elena equally. Schumacher did an excellent job depicting the intricacies of the different relationships Elena has with her family and friends.

I would highly recommend Black Box to anyone. It is less than 200 pages, and I already feel like I have said a lot, so I definitely do not want to spoil anything for anyone planning to read it! Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy today. It grips you until the very end and leaves you satisfied. You will have a great reading experience with this book.

“Black Box” by Julie Schumacher is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as in a bookstore near you. Make sure to leave feedback for the author after you read on Goodreads and add it to your To Reads shelf. You can follow Schumacher online at her website HERE! She has many more books aside from “Black Box” you can check out as well.

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