Focus on Me (In Focus #2)

Focus on Me - Megan Erickson

TW: Depression, suicide ideation, eating disorder, codependent relationship, ableist slurs

 

Once again, I'm torn on this one. I do appreciate that this book tackles a difficult subject, but I'm a little uneasy about how it's handled at points, especially the 

sex scene at around 64%, which was sexual coercion more than anything else, and I had to skip it.

(show spoiler)

Just for some background: my mom was depressed during most of my childhood, and I've had some issues with it myself, though not to the same extent. My sister had to be admitted to the hospital once for depression, so I've seen first hand the kind of off-kilter behavior that can lead up to that. So I'm pretty sensitive about how depression is treated in fiction, if it comes off as genuine versus following a checklist. I know not everyone has the same experience with depression or displays the same behavior, but this did feel a little checklisty at some points. I was also little concerned that this was going to become a "love conquers all" book. Thankfully, it didn't go there, and while I did have an issue or two, overall, I thought it was handled realistically, not just Riley's attempts to conquer it on his own but also with Colin missing the warning signs. He hasn't know Riley very long and he doesn't seem to have known anyone with mental disorders before.

 

As for the eating disorder issues, I don't know the latest statistics on models and eating disorders, but they're also not the only ones to suffer from this issue. I felt like making Riley a model with an eating disorder was a little...expected, for lack of a better word. I have no idea if this aspect of Riley's character was handled well or not, so I'll leave that to other readers to decide. I didn't see anything I could pinpoint as being wrong though.

 

The thing that really bothered me, more than the stuff with Riley, is that Colin first acknowledges his codependence on him but then doesn't do anything on his own to work on that. He really should have sought counseling as well. His issues may not be as toxic or life-threatening as Riley's, and I really didn't need it to go into great detail. Really, just a line during the epilogue that they get co-counseling would've sufficed. It's one thing to be a caretaker by nature and want to help people. It's quite another when you put your entire life on hold to do it, which is what happened during their road trip across America. Again, they just met. They only know each other a couple of weeks before they sleep together and the 'I love yous' come soon after that, all while all this drama is going on. How does it even take that long to travel across America? Where else did they go besides the stops we're told about?

 

Anyway, now I'm getting into technicalities. Overall, I liked it more than I had issues with it, but I would urge anyone who might be triggered by any of those warnings to read with caution. If I had realized this book was going to handle those topics, I might've passed on it. I'm glad I didn't but it could be upsetting for others.