Review of Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory Chaos Theory
by Nic Stone
High School    Crown    288 pp.
2/23    9780593307700    $18.99
Library ed.  9780593307717    $21.99
e-book ed.  9780593307724    $10.99

Stone’s (Dear Martin, rev. 11/17) latest YA novel opens with a text-message exchange between two apparent strangers, one of whom has accidentally messaged the other during a night of heavy drinking. The third-person narration then alternates focus between the two of them. On her way home, Shelbi, the recipient of the mysterious message, passes a car accident and believes she sees her classmate Andy. The next chapter introduces readers to Andy as he sits in a police vehicle, having crashed his own car while driving drunk. Shelbi and Andy soon realize they were texting each other and begin hanging out. Once they become close friends, Shelbi, who has bipolar disorder, asks Andy to sign a friendship contract in order to protect herself from harmful behavior, which she has experienced in the past. But the complications aren’t over, in part due to Andy’s drinking. Readers will appreciate Stone’s honest discussion of the critical issues of mental illness and substance abuse (a content warning also indicates self-harm). The book provides a starting point for thinking about how to set boundaries in friendships, as well as what it means to support a friend who is in need. Opening and closing notes from the author emphasize the importance of ending the stigma around mental illness.

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.