The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati – Review





Author: Karen Fortunati

 Publisher: Delacorte Press

Format: Hardcover, 387 pages

Published: October 11th 2016

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 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.


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adri's review


This is one of the most honest and realistic YA novel I’ve ever come across. Catherine, our main protagonist, has bipolar disorder. Ever since her grandmother died in front of her, things have turned bleak for Catherine. Her friends turn on her and become tormentors at school after she tells them of her condition and she tumbles into severe depression (that she names “Zero”), which leads her into an attempt to take her own life. After failing at her first attempt, she starts stockpiling her pills, so that the next time “Zero” hits, she could take her own life. 

  • Catherine is such a relatable protagonist. Told from her point of view, this book gives a heartfelt and realistic insight into a person with mental illness. I really cared for her and every instance of guilt, hopelessness or sadness she felt hit right home. The author did such an amazing job of depicting those types of feelings.
  • There is great emphasis on support. What I really loved about this book was how it not only delved into mental health (without romanticizing) but it also focused on its effect on loved ones as well. Catherine’s mother, her doctor and her new found friends play such an important role in Catherine’s road to recovery. 
  • Great cast of side characters & relationships. The relationships depicted in this book felt so real. I was completely invested in the dynamic between Catherine and her mother; I enjoyed watching them grow, both individually and relationship-wise. I absolutely loved Krystal. she’s the kind of person I would want as a friend myself. Also, totally adored Michael and his whole family. 
  • This book doesn’t shy away from mentioning the side effects & disadvantages of medication and it touches on conditions like Vagismus, which I wasn’t aware of till I read this book. It tackles the topic of depression, insecurity and fear head on. But overall, it’s a positive book that shows how you can live life to the fullest even with a mental illness.

There are times when I got totally mad at Catherine and I kinda got bored in the middle when there was literally nothing happening, but The Weight of Zero is an enjoyable read with a great set of characters. I don’t have bipolar disorder, or any of the conditions mentioned in the book but I did feel like it provides a great representation of mental illness and there are many others who feel the same way, so I absolutely recommend it!!



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karen Fortunati

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