Independence Day

Young Adult - Social Issues
378 Pages
Reviewed on 06/28/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Stacie Haas for Readers' Favorite

In Independence Day by Rachel Teller, a beautiful yet cranky teenage girl named Candace Wisenhardt is on the verge of having everything she ever wanted—a life of relative peace being the girlfriend, fiancee, then wife of her hockey star boyfriend, Mitchell Harlow, as he joins the Western Hockey League. She is eager to keep their apartment, put together their meals, and continue to be arm candy as Mitch navigates the attention his talent attracts. Candace knows her aspirations aren’t lofty—even for an 18-year-old teenager recently graduated from high school—but to her they are everything. After all, maintaining low expectations is perfectly fine when you’ve been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Sometimes just getting through the day is all the energy she can muster—that and trying to keep her outbursts and spirals under control so that her boyfriend of three years will stay the course.

Candace’s journey in Independence Day by Rachel Teller is absolutely engrossing. The curtain is pulled back on teenage mental illness in a manner that doesn’t simply show it to you but puts you inside it. Candace’s voice is raw and honest as she battles borderline personality disorder and everything that comes with it. Candace is content one minute and breaking down or contemplating suicide the next and she doesn’t know how to change it—all the therapy, pamphlets, and Google searches claim there is no magic pill or potion to solve her problems, and as such, it’s hard for Candace to move beyond the belief that it’s just who she is. For precisely that reason, Candace’s quest for independence is potent, mind-boggling, and worth every minute. Rachel Teller’s novel is “inspired by real people,” and it’s clear the author writes with unmatched authority, compassion, and honesty that serve her readers well. I thank Rachel Teller for helping me to better understand the struggles of mental illness; for showing me the absolute humanity of real people who suffer; and for telling such a brave story that will leave a lasting impact on me. Independence Day was not always the easiest book to read; however, it was one of the most important reads of my life. Recommended.

Asher Syed

Independence Day by Rachel Teller is a young adult novel, but suitable for teens, that addresses social and mental health issues in a story of a protagonist named Candace “Candy” Wisenhardt. By all outward appearances, Candace has the life many girls dream of even if with the infamous public knowledge of her temperamental moods. Her boyfriend Mitchell Harlow is a tall, handsome, naturally gifted athlete who is within arms reach of a promising hockey career. Candace was herself a teen who shared a love of the ice as a figure skater but left the rink behind before her relationship with Mitchell reached its full bloom. After graduation, the couple's commitment and love for one another remain strong and Candace is content to hitch her wagon to Mitchell's shooting star as his supportive, unofficial cheerleader. Her part in this duo starts to fray and unravel as Candace's mental health begins to crumble, pitting her heath, welfare, and even her life up against the stability and happiness a young woman deserves.

Rachel Teller does a fantastic job of addressing the often shelved topic of mental health in teenagers with the novel Independence Day. Candace is a perfectly imperfect protagonist in a story where the primary antagonist is sourced from within her own self. Mitchell is essentially a sporty Adonis and is so head-over-heels for Candace that watching her spiral out of control as a reader is made all the more frustrating and heartbreaking. Where Teller is able to strike the winning goal is in a first-person narrative that connects the reader to Candace in a way that makes us forgive physical aggression and verbal torment when in any other story these alone would be deal-breakers. As a person who has an intimate, real-life understanding of the struggle with teenage mental health issues, the development of Candace as a character is so well executed that virtually every aspect feels completely authentic. This is a fantastic book that I would give a whole bucket of stars to if I could.

K.C. Finn

Independence Day is a work of fiction that centers around important social and emotional issues and was penned by author Rachel Teller. A truly contemporary piece for young adult readers and beyond, the crippling nature of the current mental health crisis for teenagers is perfectly exemplified by the dramatic events of this heartfelt novel. Protagonist Candace Wisenhardt appears to have it all – the hockey star boyfriend, gorgeous looks, and a happy future – but her Borderline Personality Disorder leaves this fragile young woman feeling like she has no hope of a stable life unless she sticks close to boyfriend Mitchell as his star rises. What follows is a tumultuous coming of age story that accurately reflects teenage mental health and the pressures of growing up.

Author Rachel Teller has crafted a masterpiece of emotive drama that will be sure to resonate with readers going through similar issues but will also serve to educate a much wider audience about what it’s like to suffer the effects and stigma of mental illness as a young person today. Candy is a character presented from a range of intimate perspectives that allow readers to see her daily struggles and challenges up close. I found that the speech and thought presentation of the novel was delivered with technical brilliance to give us this deeper insight and move the plot forward. The work is intelligent and sensitively written, and overall I would highly recommend Independence Day for young adult readers and beyond. An illuminating and heartfelt read for one and all.