Highly Illogical Behavior

Highly Illogical Behavior

by John Corey Whaley


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From a Printz and Morris Award-winning author comes a quirky story of coming-of-age, coming out, friendship, love...and agoraphobia.

Sixteen-year-old Solomon has agoraphobia. He hasn't left his house in 3 years. Ambitious Lisa is desperate to get into a top-tier psychology program. And so when Lisa learns about Solomon, she decides to befriend him, cure him, and then write about it for her college application. To earn Solomon's trust, she introduces him to her boyfriend Clark, and starts to reveal her own secrets. But what started as an experiment leads to a real friendship, with all three growing close. But when the truth comes out, what erupts could destroy them all. Funny and heartwarming, Highly Illogical Behavior is a fascinating exploration of what makes us tick, and how the connections between us may be the most important things of all.

“At a time when young adult literature is actively picking away at the stigma of mental illness, Whaley carves off a healthy chunk with style, sensitivity and humor. . . . ELECTRIFYING.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Tender and funny.”—People Magazine, Summer's Best Books of 2016

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780147515209
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 06/13/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 86,718
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

John Corey Whaley's first novel, Where Things Come Back, was the winner of the 2012 Printz Award and the 2012 Morris Award. His second novel, Noggin, was a 2014 National Book Award finalist. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Read an Excerpt



Solomon never needed to leave the house anyway. He had food. He had water. He could see the mountains from his bedroom window, and his parents were so busy all the time that he pretty much got to be sole ruler of the house. Jason and Valerie Reed let it be this way because, eventually, giving in to their son’s condition was the only way to make him better. So, by the time he turned sixteen, he hadn’t left the house in three years, two months, and one day. He was pale and chronically barefoot and it worked. It was the only thing that ever had.

He did his schoolwork online—usually finishing it before his parents were home every evening, with bed head and pajamas on. If the phone rang, he’d let it go to voice mail. And, on the rare occasion that someone knocked on the door, he would look through the peephole until whoever it was—a Girl Scout, a politician, or maybe a neighbor—would give up and leave. Solomon lived in the only world that would have him. And even though it was quiet and mundane and sometimes lonely, it never got out of control.

He hadn’t made the decision lightly, and it should be said that he at least tried to make it out there for as long as possible, for as long as anyone like him could. Then one day trying wasn’t enough, so he stripped down to his boxers and sat in the fountain in front of his junior high school. And right there, with his classmates and teachers watching, with the morning sun blinding him, he slowly leaned back until his entire body was underwater.

That was the last time Solomon Reed went to Upland Junior High and, within a matter of days, he started refusing to go outside altogether. It was better that way.

“It’s better this way,” he said to his mom, who begged him each morning to try harder.

And really, it was. His panic attacks had been happening since he was eleven, but over the course of just two years, he’d gone from having one every few months, to once a month, to twice, and so on. By the time he hopped into the fountain like a lunatic, he was having mild to severe panic attacks up to three times daily.

It was hell.

After the fountain, he realized what he had to do. Take away the things that make you panic and you won’t panic. And then he spent three years wondering why everyone found that so hard to understand. All he was doing was living instead of dying. Some people get cancer. Some people get crazy. Nobody tries to take the chemo away.

Solomon was born and will, in all likelihood, die in Upland, California. Upland is a suburb of Los Angeles, just about an hour east of downtown. It’s in a part of the state they call the Inland Empire, which really floats Solomon’s boat because it sounds like something from Star Trek, which is a television show he knows far too much about.

His parents, Jason and Valerie, don’t know too much about Star Trek, despite their son’s insistence that it’s a brilliant exploration of humanity. It makes him happy, though, so they’ll watch an episode with him every now and then. They even ask questions about the characters from time to time just so they can see that excited look he gets.

Valerie Reed is a dentist with her own practice in Upland, and Jason builds movie sets on a studio lot in Burbank. You’d think this would lead to some great stories from work, but Jason’s the kind of guy who thinks Dermot Mulroney and Dylan McDermott are interchangeable, so most of his celebrity sightings can’t be trusted.

A week after he turned sixteen, Solomon was growing impatient as his dad tried to tell him about an actor he’d seen on set earlier that day.

“You know…the guy with the mustache. From the show…the show with the theme song…”

“That’s every show on TV, Dad.”

“Oh, you know the guy. The gun guy!”

“The gun guy? What does that even mean?”

“The guy. He holds the gun in the opening thing. I know you know the guy.”

“I don’t know. Hawaii Five-O?”

“That’s a movie, not an actor,” his dad said.

“It’s a television show. How can you work in Hollywood?”

“You get your schoolwork done today?” Solomon’s mom asked as she walked into the living room.

“This morning. How was work?”

“I got a new patient today.”

“Keep bringing in those big bucks!” his dad joked.

Nobody laughed.

“She says she went to Upland Junior High. Lisa Praytor? Does that ring a bell?”

“Nope,” Solomon replied.

“Nice girl. Beautiful molars. But she’s going to need to get those wisdom teeth out in a year or two or she’ll have to get braces all over again.”

“Did you have braces?” Solomon asked.

“Headgear. It was awful.”

“Oh, it all makes sense now. You want to put others through the torture of your childhood.”

“Don’t analyze me.”

“Solomon, stop analyzing your mother,” his dad said from behind a book, one of those creepy mystery novels he was always reading.

“Anyway, she’s a nice girl. Pretty too. Only one cavity.”

Solomon knew good and well what was going on. His mom was doing that thing she did where she thought talking about some pretty girl would suddenly cure her son and have him walking right out the front door and straight to high school. It was innocent enough, but he hoped she wasn’t actually that desperate for him to change. Because, if she was, then wouldn’t these little moments, built up over time, eventually collapse into a mess?

He’d heard their conversations about him a few times. When he was ten he learned that if he held a plastic cup against his bedroom wall, he could hear everything his parents were saying in their bedroom. The last time he listened was when his mom asked his dad if they were going to be “stuck with him forever.” After she said it, he didn’t hear anything for a while. Then he realized it was because she’d started crying as soon as the words left her mouth. Hours later, Solomon was still awake wondering how to answer his mother’s question. He eventually decided on a hard yes.



Sometimes life just hands you the lemonade, straight up in a chilled glass with a little slice of lemon on top. For Lisa Praytor, junior and straight-A student at Upland High, meeting Solomon Reed’s mother was that glass of lemonade. And it was going to change her life.

You may have known a Lisa Praytor at some point. She was the girl sitting at the front of your classroom, raising her hand to answer every single question the teacher asked. She stayed after school to work on the yearbook and as soon as she got home, she dove headfirst into her homework.

She’d always been one to keep a packed schedule, choosing at age eleven to live by the words of her great-aunt Dolores, who said, “Not a day on your calendar should ever be empty. It’s bad luck. Twenty-four hours of wasted opportunity.”

Not even an offer from her boyfriend to drive to the coast and watch the sunset could tempt her off schedule. And Clark Robbins was the kind of guy who asked her to do things like that all the time. He was handsome without being threatening, and his tree-bark brown hair parted in a way that was particularly appealing to Lisa. On the day that Lisa met Solomon’s mom, she’d been dating Clark for a year and seventeen days. She had it marked on her calendar for proof.

During eighth grade, after a seventh grader had an episode in front of the school, Lisa wrote an op-ed piece for the Upland Junior High Register to defend the boy—a scathing essay on the importance of empathy. It didn’t go over well with her classmates and until the end of the year, rumors swirled around that Lisa was secretly dating the crazy kid who jumped into the fountain.

Had it not been for the student body of nearly one thousand at Upland Junior High, Lisa may not have been able to escape her failed attempt at heroism when she got to high school. She did, though, and most of her friends and classmates eventually forgot about it altogether.

But not Lisa. She’d seen him that day—this skinny little guy with messy hair taking his shirt off and dropping his pants and walking that slow, quiet walk toward the water. She never knew him, really, but she’d always thought he looked nice, like the kind of guy who’d hold a door open for someone else without a thought. And she’d always hoped that someday she’d see him again or, at the very least, hear that he was doing okay.

Then one day, Lisa saw an advertisement for Valerie Reed’s dental practice in the local newspaper. It took one Internet search to confirm that this was Solomon’s mother. She’d never really been looking for the fountain kid, despite thinking about him from time to time and wondering where he’d ended up. But the second she realized she’d found him, she knew she had to get to him as soon as possible. And the only way to do that was to make an appointment with his mom. At the very least, Lisa would get a nice teeth cleaning and a free toothbrush. At the very best, she’d make all her dreams come true.

“So, where do you go to school?” Dr. Valerie Reed asked as she sat down to examine Lisa’s teeth. It was March twenty-fourth, a Tuesday, and Lisa was having a really hard time not asking a million questions about Solomon.

“Upland High. Are you Solomon’s mother?”

“Yes,” she answered, slightly taken aback.

“I went to junior high with him. His picture’s on the wall,” she smiled, pointing across the room to a photograph of Valerie, Jason, and Solomon hanging by the window.

“You knew him?” Valerie asked.

“Knew him?” Lisa asked. “Oh! Did he …?”

“No. God no. Sorry,” Valerie said. “He just doesn’t get out much.”

“Private school? Western Christian?”

“He’s homeschooled.”

“You do that and this?” Lisa asked.

“It’s all online. Okay, lean back for me. Open wide.”

“I was there you know,” Lisa said, sitting straight up.

“Where?” Dr. Reed asked. She was beginning to look a little frustrated.

“That morning. I saw your son … I saw his incident.”

“It was a panic attack,” she said. “Can I get a look at those teeth now?”

“Just one more thing,” Lisa said.

“Go on.”

“Why doesn’t he get out much?”

Dr. Reed stared down at her in silence, her mouth covered with a blue paper mask, but her eyes searching for the right answer. And just when she went to speak, Lisa interrupted her.

“It’s just … no one’s seen him in so long. He was there and then he wasn’t. It’s strange is all. I thought maybe he went off to boarding school or something.”

“He made it one day at Western Christian. What do you do if your kid won’t leave the house?”

“Homeschool him?”

“It was our only option. Open wide.”

As soon as Dr. Reed was done, Lisa picked right back up where she’d left off, not even waiting for her chair to be all the way upright again.

“When was the last time he left the house?”

“You sure are inquisitive, aren’t you?”

“I’m sorry. Gosh, I’m so sorry. I never meant to be nosy. I’ve just thought a lot about him over the last few years and when I realized you were his mom, I guess I got too excited.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “I’m just glad somebody remembers him. It’s been three years. A little over, actually.”

“Is he okay?”

“Mostly, yeah. We make it work.”

“Must get lonely,” Lisa said.

“You’d think that, yes.”

“Does he have any friends?”

“Not anymore. Used to though. You guys all grow up so fast. He just couldn’t keep up.”

“Can you tell him I say hello? I doubt he’ll know who I am, but just, you know, if it’s not weird.”

“I’ll tell him, Lisa. And I’ll see you next Tuesday to get this cavity fixed up.”

Lying to adults was a little easier for Lisa than lying to her peers. Just like herself, none of her friends or classmates really trusted anyone, so lying was hard to get away with. But take someone like Valerie Reed, DDS, probably born in the late seventies to Southern California liberals, and you’ve got an easy target—someone who wants to trust everyone so much that they don’t see a lie when it’s slapping them right in the face.

In the grand scheme of things, Lisa knew it was harmless, a necessary step in taking her master plan from concept to actuality. And what a plan it was.

She was going to fix Solomon Reed.

Her life depended on it.

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Highly Illogical Behavior 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Bookyogi 11 months ago
I did not expect to listen to this book all in one day, but once I started I found I couldn’t stop. 16 year old Solomon is an agoraphobic who hasn’t left his house in three years and Lisa is determined to “fix” him and use his story of mental illness to get into a top college. Along with her adorable and engaging boyfriend they form a close friendship. What I liked: The easy humor. The characters are engaging and funny, slightly sarcastic, with a dry sense of humor which is pervasive throughout the story and lives in all the characters. Solomon, even though dealing with a significant mental illness, is relatable, likable, intelligent and funny. The story is told flipping back and for from Solomon to Lisa’s perspective which successfully gives us a full understanding of all parts of the story. Clark is a cinnamon roll who you can’t help but love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A 16 year-old boy, Solomon Reed, struggles with a disorder called agoraphobia. Ever since "the fountain incident" in middle school, it has been three years since he has gone outside. He suffers with severe panic attacks and horrible anxiety. Lisa Praytor comes along with her perfect boyfriend, Clark, and she wants to meet Solomon to try to "fix" him or make him better. But, the main reason she wanted to meet him was so she could get into the second-best psychology program for college. In order to get into the college she will have to write an essay explaining her "experience with mental illness". So, will she end up writing the essay for herself or for Solomon? Find out by reading John Corey Whaley's "Highly Illogical Behavior". I personally loved this book, it was funny, clever, and even contained a little romance. There were parts of the book I was not expecting which made me want to keep reading it more so, I definitely recommend reading this page turner you won't want to put down.
alyssayuri More than 1 year ago
After a year and a few days owning this book, I finally read HIGHLY ILLOGICAL BEHAVIOR. And it was beautiful. I finally decided to read this because it's Pride Month and I haven't read a book with the main character as an LGBT rep. though I read this in a couple of days, I actually put this off. and since it's so hot and i can't sleep properly I actually read it quickly than I expected. But it wasn't the heat that kept me from sleeping, it definitely was this book! and i am regretting i put this off. I am in love with it! I love the characters, the plot, the flow of the story and just everything about it! ... except for the little itty bitty thing that I thought was left unanswered for me. Anyway, the plot was cray for me. there's this girl who wants to fix a mentally ill person. yeah the girl is cray. and it sounds so wrong in so many levels. but i think Sol's story is the one that makes it more enticing! and Sol's the one that makes the plot so good! As the story goes on, there's this beautiful friendship that's formed and I cannot help but feel for all of them. The characters are superb! Besides Sol, Lisa, and Clark, there are these minor characters that shine very much. Sol's parents and Grandma are so cool! and I understand that because my parents are awesome too. The main characters though are just hands down amazing. Though Sol has mental illness, the author made it clear that he is still a functioning human being. And that made me realize that it's the same for real people with mental illness too. I swear! this is why i love reading books, i get a glimpse of other people's lives even though it is a fiction book. Anyway, it also shows that sometimes the normal people are the ones that have something wrong with them. the story flow is so good. I feel like I'm in Sol's house too. Like I was part of there little group playing games and watching TV. and when we are getting to the climax of the story, I was almost tearing up. My eyes were getting wet because of the feels. i got totally emotionally invested in the book. and that doesn't happen often! i even had my phone ready to snap photos of those quotes that speak so much to me. This book was just truly beautiful! and this could be a competitor for the best reads I have for the year. And since it's John Corey Whaley writing, he throws curveballs. And those curveballs just went straight to my heart like it was the catcher's glove. I'm so happy I read it. It's perfect for the summer and it's perfect for Pride month!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The charecters are intresting, the plot unpredictable, and evrything loveable
DevinsBookHub More than 1 year ago
Highly Illogical Behavior is one of the more unique books I've read, since it's not every day you encounter a book where the main character has agoraphobia, which is the fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places. In fact, the protagonist, Solomon, hasn't left his house in three years. He has no friends and plans on keeping things this way for the rest of his life. Or so he thought. One day a girl named Lisa who went to his old school before he switched to homeschooling stumbled across an ad for a dentist Solomon's mom worked at. She questioned if it was his mother, as she was curious what become to him, so she made an appointment for a checkup at the dentist. Unlike Solomon, Lisa has plans that don't involve staying at home for the rest of her life. With college nearing she wants to get into the second best psychology program, but needs a killer essay to guarantee her acceptance into it. She decided she will work with Solomon so she can fix him and write all about the experience in the essay. After the dentist appointment it's agreed by everyone that she can visit Solomon and hang out for a while. Solomon and the rest of his family don't know a thing about the essay, though. They all think she wants to be Solomon's friend with no hidden agendas of any sort. As with any scenario, an idea such as Lisa's is much more easier said than done, with all kinds of road blocks along the way. It was a fun read, even humorous at times, and I enjoyed seeing Lisa, her boyfriend Clark, and Solomon all grow closer together as friends. I felt that the ending of this story was really good, everything came together in a way I didn't quite expect. I thought it was very clever, so props to John Corey Whaley for that. If you liked Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green, I think you'll like Highly Illogical Behavior too.
booookworm More than 1 year ago
i just love reading books where the main character is having a tough time and the parents are SO wonderful and understanding!!!! such a good book to read if you want to understand someone with anxiety.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read a couple of other YA books in the last 2 months that touch on mental illness, but this one really goes there. Lisa is determined, no, desperate to get out of town. Everything she does is geared toward getting good grades and progessing through high school in a way that will get her into her desired college and away from the mess that her mother has made of their lives. Even her choice of boyfriend, Clark, a good looking and sweet natured athlete seems to be more a matter of calculation than emotion. When she needs to write an essay on her experience with mental illness in order to get into the college that will make all her dreams of escape possible, she remembers the kid who one day stripped off at school and lay down in the fountain...and was never seen again. Solomon has panic attacks and agoraphobia and hasn't been out of the house in 3 years. He doesn't think he can be fixed. So when a strange girl suddenly befriends and takes him a little outside of himself, can he decide to get better? A wonderfully written story and a moving look at mental illness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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MariahEllis More than 1 year ago
John Corey Whaley has hit another home run. Highly Illogical Behavior was a quick read with alternating points of view. The conversations and situations between the three main characters (Solomon, Lisa, and Clark) were believable and filled with the perfect balance of humor, heartbreak, seriousness, learning, and feels. This is a story that is going to stick with me. Please do yourself a favor and pick this book up. You will fall in love with the characters and be reminded that maybe, humanity isn't as bad as it seems.