charming story of family, love, and healing
THE VOICE IN MY HEAD begins with Indigo standing on a building, praying to God for her sister to live and trying to bargain. When she hears a voice, she slips and falls. Later, at the hospital, she had some severe injuries but still hears the voice. Her much older sister, Michelle, is a nurse practitioner and checks her out against medical advice so that they can go home. Indigo’s twin sister, Violet, is terminally ill with a respiratory disease for which there is no treatment or cure. Violet has elected to choose medically-assisted suicide or euthanasia.
The voice Indigo is hearing tells her that if she brings Violet to a park in Arizona and has her hike to the Wave (2.5 miles), Violet will live. Indigo gives this message to Violet when she is supposed to be saying goodbye and dumps the medication out the window. Violet ends up deciding to go on the trip and make the hike- but only if the whole family goes too.
There’s a lot to unpack in the story. At the forefront, it deals with some really big issues, such as grief, loss, terminal illness, and euthanasia. Secondarily, there are some smaller issues that come up such as racism and what it is like to be black in this country. Despite the overwhelmingly sad story, the author has managed to infuse some humor and healing into the book, and it ends up being quite entertaining- from the priest with his colorful bus and new-age good nature, the Voice which may be God, and the family dynamics.
The characters were all really well constructed, and there’s a lot to be said about the family and how they come together and build new understanding on the long trip. Whereas often in stories about death, the grieving and healing occurs after, in this book, it happens along with the trip. We see the characters (particularly Indigo) growing throughout the book.
Overall, this is an engaging contemporary YA about family, (familial) love, and healing. With a charming cast of characters and appropriately infused humor, this story is chock full of heart. I would highly recommend for anyone looking for a thoughtful book that presents a lot of topics for further discussion/consideration.