Waiting For Fitz – Spencer Hyde – Shadow Mountain – Published 5 March 2019
Addie loves nothing more than curling up on the couch with her dog, Duck, and watching The Great British Baking Show with her mom. It’s one of the few things that can help her relax when her OCD kicks into overdrive. She counts everything. All the time. She can’t stop. Rituals and rhythms. It’s exhausting.
When Fitz was diagnosed with schizophrenia, he named the voices in his head after famous country singers. He loves puns, foreign films, and T-shirts with witty sayings. The adolescent psychiatric ward at Seattle Regional Hospital isn’t exactly the ideal place to meet your soul mate, but when Addie meets Fitz, they immediately connect over their shared love of words, appreciate each other’s quick wit, and wish they could both make more sense of their lives.
Fitz is haunted by his past, and he’s often not sure what’s real. One memory weighs heavily on his mind—a tragic death he fears he may have caused—but he knows if he can just get to San Juan Island, everything will be okay. If not, he risks falling into a downward spiral that may keep him in the hospital indefinitely.
Escaping the hospital becomes the first step of a journey for Fitz and Addie as they learn about life and love, forgiveness and courage, and what’s necessary to let go and what’s worth waiting for.
Waiting For Fitz is author Spencer Hyde’s debut novel. Drawing from his own experience, Hyde has created a one-of-a-kind story about friendship, mental health and the value of waiting for the things you find are the most important.
Addie counts everything. Heartbeats, blinks, the number of times she washes her hands. When Addie’s mother suggests moving to a psychiatric ward to help control her OCD, Addie didn’t expect to make friends or to meet someone as special at Fitz. Fitz has schizophrenia and has spent the last two years on the ward. When he and Addie connect over their shared love of grammar and dry humour, he convinces Addie to help him break out of the ward to complete a special task.
Hyde has created a unique, unreserved novel that doesn’t shy away from its sometimes difficult or emotional topics. I am not knowledgeable enough about the ins and outs of OCD, Schizophrenia and psych wards to know if Fitz and Addie’s experiences are realistic. In any case, I do know that these conditions vary significantly in each person and so Waiting For Fitz simply presents one possible experience.
Addie is a character who takes teenage snark to a whole new level. It helps protect her from her own emotions and the emotions of those around her, but it does make her seem rude and unapproachable. Addie certainly has a distinctive voice, evident in her consistent comments and use of ‘whatever’ or ‘get over it’. As she narrates the story it’s easy for the reader to experience the world through her eyes and viewpoint.
The adventure Fitz and Addie embark on brought an extra level of dept and meaning to the story as readers, and Addie, uncover some of Fitz’s backstory, and Addie is moved to question her own experiences and reasons for healing and living.
I had to put Waiting For Fitz down a few times due to reading time constraints but it was always easy to pick it back up again. It’s certainly not my favourite mental health-focused YA novel, but it is unique and offers a different, raw-around-the-edges feel.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Mental illness, OCD, schizophrenia, psychiatric wards, friendship, grief, death, brothers, family, birds.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up (publisher recommends ages 14 and up).
Advisory: References to death and mature themes. No coarse language.
Published: 5 March 2019 by Shadow Mountain.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 256 pages.