Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
Seventeen-year-old Anna is the ninth child in a family of ten brothers and sisters. Just Like Ziggy by Julie Oleszek starts with Anna being discharged from the psychiatric ward of the fifth floor of Advocate Hospital. Anna is still not able to talk about her sister Liz’s death, even though nine years have passed since the incident. Months later she goes back to her old behavior and finds herself back in the hospital. Then there is a letter from her brother, Kyle, that adds a twist to the plot. The story chronicles Anna's life, the healing process, and the importance of a loving family in one’s life.
The author captures the emotions and feelings of a seventeen-year-old girl very well and makes her angst, her emotional health, and her rebellious nature tangible to readers. There are some heartrending moments in the story and it captures the emotional and difficult issues faced by a teenager in a real and relatable way. All the characters in the story, however brief some of them are, manage to leave an impact. The subtle message of the importance of having a loving and supportive family runs through the story as we get to see Anna going through her extremely difficult phases.
The narration is detailed and, at certain places, the starkness of the weather and nature blends with the emotions of Anna and her inner turmoil. In many places emotions run high and they are palpable to readers. Whether it is Dr. Ellison, Anna’s mother, or the other characters in the book, they all complement the plot to make it effective and the author handles the emotions of every single member of the family with compassion. It is a story about acceptance and love, and is a compelling read.