HarperTempest

April 2006

$7.99 US

160p pb

ISBN: 978-0064462181

fp October 1999

Stop Pretending: what happened when my big sister went crazy

Sonya Sones

from the book...

One night her sister goes crazy

One night her world falls apart

It really happens just like that, in the blink of an eye. An older sister has a mental breakdown and has to go into hospital. A younger sister is left behind to cope with a family torn apart by grief, and friends who turn their back on her. But worst of all is the loss of her sister, her confidante, her best friend.

This haunting first book is inspired by the true story of the author's life. It's an intense and brutally honest story, told in a succession of powerful poems that takes us into the cyclone of the narrator's emotions: grief, anger, guilt, resentment, horror, and ultimately acceptance.

If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A


One day, everything is fine. The next day, your world is turned upside down. The truth isn’t always easy to come to terms with, especially when it concerns your big sister. How could she go crazy? Why did she go crazy?

Life for a 13 year old is turned upside down when one Christmas Eve, her big sister goes crazy, leaving her with unanswered questions, and the task of coming to terms with what has happened. 

Every now and then a book comes along with the power to move and touch you, and Stop Pretending is one of those special books. Once you start reading the first poems, you will be reeled onto a roller coaster ride that you will never forget… 

Natasa, age 16, Canberra, Australia


One of Sonya Sones’ most famous stories is the book, Stop Pretending, a story about the life of Cookie, a thirteen year-old girl and how her older sister suffers from a mental breakdown. Cookie, uncertain with how her friends would respond if she told them, hides the fact that her sister is crazy and carries on with school as best she can, with her parents fighting and sister becoming a stranger. The main character, Cookie, goes through a series of emotions, from feeling scared and different from her sister, to suicidal and desperate thoughts to try and escape, and finally accepting and believing that her family will become whole once more.

Sonya Sones wrote this book after her own life experience with a family member, her older sister, suffering from manic-depression. The fact that this story is more-or-less what she herself went through makes the reader more understanding of ‘crazy’ people, instead of regarding them as inferior human beings. This verse novel is an excellent read for people who wish to know about people who are affected from mental illness cases, and is best recommended for teenage and older readers. A good read, scoring ten out of ten.

Matt, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

Stop Pretending is about a girl whose nickname is ‘Cookie’. She has an ordinary life until one day when she comes home her sister is gone. Cookie finds out that her sister has been sent to the psychiatric ward. This tosses her life into turmoil. Her parents start fighting and her friends leave her because she is the girl with the crazy sister. Then she meets John. John makes her life seem bearable; he is understanding of Cookie’s sister.

I really enjoyed this book because it really gives the reader a sense of what it would be like if someone you loved went crazy. I think that this book was well written and true to life and this probably because this is what Sonya Sones had to experience when she was younger. The book gives an insight into Cookie’s life and how she feels after her sister just disappears. I would recommend this book to teenagers because it deals with some issues that younger readers might not understand.

This book made me realise that mental illness can affect all the people that know them. It made me realise that there is no real miracle cure for a mental illness but it has to be overcome by not only the person with the illness but also their family. I really enjoyed this book and it made me realise many things about people with mental illnesses. I give this book 9 out of 10 because I could really understand how Cookie was feeling when her older sister just disappeared.

Ben, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

Stop Pretending is a story written in verse form about a teenage girl and how in one day her whole life changes. Her sister is sent to a mental hospital and all her friends turn their backs on her because her sister is crazy. Her parents start fighting and there is no longer laughter or excitement in her home just faint memories. But one day a new boy comes to school and changes her life and accepts her for who she is and doesn’t care that her sister is crazy. Stop Pretending is actually based on the author’s hardships of growing up as a teenager in a family.

Personally I enjoyed Stop Pretending; it is an emotional and moving story. It shows truth and anger. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy emotional and riveting stories and anyone in between the age of 12 to 18.

Siobhan, Year 8, Canberra, Australia 

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