Category Archives: A Danger to Herself and Others

Review: A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Title: A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Girl, Interrupted meets We Were Liars in this gripping new novel from New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Sheinmel.

Four walls. One window. No way to escape.

Hannah knows there’s been a mistake, She doesn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at that summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctor and judge figure out that she isn’t a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. Those college applications aren’t going to write themselves. Until then, she’s determined to win over the staff and earn some privileges so she doesn’t lose her mind to boredom.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage, and she’s the perfect project to keep Hannah’s focus off all she is missing at home. But Lucy may be the one person who can get Hannah to confront the secrets she’s avoiding-and the dangerous games that landed her in confinement in the first place.


A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmel is an intriguing young adult novel.

Seventeen year old Hannah Gold is certain she has been placed in a mental institution by mistake.  She had nothing to do with her roommate and friend Agnes Smith’s accidental fall out of a window. But Agnes’ parents are convinced she is guilty of harming their daughter, so a judge orders Hannah into an institution for further evaluation. At first, Hannah refuses to discuss anything of value with her therapist, Dr. Lightfoot. However, the arrival of her roommate Lucy Quintana is a turning point for Hannah as she finally realizes that in order to earn “privileges”, she has to be honest with Dr. Lightfoot.  With Hannah divulging the events that occurred in the weeks preceding Agnes’s accident,  Dr. Lightfoot makes a shocking diagnosis that completely upends Hannah’s view of herself.  And with the hearing into her role in what happened to Agnes and Hannah’s reunion with her parents fast approaching, is she prepared for how everyone will react to her unexpected diagnosis?

Hannah is an extremely intelligent, high achieving only child. Her parents have always treated her as an adult, so she is quite mature and very composed. Hannah is very fixated on not falling behind in school but Dr. Lightfoot wants her to concentrate on her therapy. Initially, Hannah is positive that she did not harm Agnes, but after she is placed under observation, self-doubts begin to creep in.  But  why would she have wanted to harm her best friend?

Lucy’s arrival provides Hannah with a distraction from her own problems. The two girls hit it off fairly quickly and they are soon swapping stories and finding ways to pass the time. Once Hannah realizes Lucy has earned privileges that provide her with a modicum of freedom, she becomes more open with Dr. Lightfoot. But will her gradual self-awareness prepare Hannah for the doctor’s diagnosis?

A Danger to Herself and Others is a thought-provoking  young adult novel with a somewhat unreliable narrator. The majority of the story takes place mainly in Hannah’s room at the institution so it is easy for readers to empathize with her as she tries to come to terms with her current situation. Despite a bit of repetition, the storyline is interesting and the characters are relatively well-developed. Hannah comes across as a typical teenager, so Dr. Lightfoot’s diagnosis will catch readers off guard.  Alyssa B. Sheinmel deftly handles the subject of mental illness with sensitivity and provides insight into a misunderstood disease. An engaging young adult novel that I recommend to older teen and adult readers.

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Filed under A Danger to Herself and Others, Alyssa B Sheinmel, Contemporary, Rated B, Review, Sourcebooks Fire, Young Adult