Book Review: Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame (Mara Wilson)

Format: Audible Audio

Length: 7hrs 22 mins

Release Date: September 13th 2016

Summary:

Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab. Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being “cute” enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Exquisitely crafted, revelatory, and full of the crack comic timing that has made Mara Wilson a sought-after live storyteller and Twitter star, Where Am I Now?introduces a witty, perceptive, and refreshingly candid new literary voice.

Review:

I’ve never listened to an audiobook before or read an autobiography/memoir so this was doubly new to me. It was different to my usual reading experience and I really enjoyed it. I also won this book in a giveaway from The Candid Cover so big thanks to her 🙂

Like most people, I know Mara Wilson from Matilda and a handful of other films from my childhood. I didn’t really keep up with what she did after, though I heard from various people that she did cool/funny stuff on and off the internet. I’m not sure why I decided I wanted this to be my first audiobook, but when I saw it I just knew I wanted to read/hear it.

In the book, Mara Wilson narrates events from various points in her life, from growing up on film sets, her young views on sex and relationships, and her struggles with mental illness. There’s also a section on Robin Williams that was extremely poignant and almost brought me to tears.

The parts that resonated with me most were when she talks about her experiences with OCD and depression. These are things that are still commonly misunderstood, turned into the butt of jokes on the internet, and just generally not talked about openly enough. Wilson approaches these topics with a refreshing honesty and it was helpful to hear someone talk about something I’ve had some experience with too.

The other bit that stuck with me was how people react to what she looks like today. When ‘What do they look like now?’ articles pop up on the internet, people often seem angry that Mara Wilson isn’t still a cute toothy 8 year old. It’s another of those things that show how much women are judged on their appearance rather than their achievements and personality. It also shows how people feel entitled to pass judgement on celebrities: Wilson’s paragraph on what she’d say to someone who told her how to ‘fix’ her looks was inspiring and it just made me admire her more.

This book is full of witty and touching stories, wonderfully narrated by Mara Wilson. It’ll make you laugh and make you stop and think, and I’d fully recommend it.

4

Book Review: Room Empty (Sarah Mussi)

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Pages: 304

Release Date: April 6th 2017

Summary:

Fletcher and Dani are fighting their own inner demons just to stay alive. Dani is ravaged by anorexia and hasn’t eaten for days. Fletcher is fighting to stay off the streets and to stay off drugs. Will their attraction to each other save or destroy them?

Both patients at the Daisy Bank Rehab Centre, Fletcher wants to help Dani find out about the Room Empty at the heart of her pain: What happened to Dani in that room when she was four? Whose is the dead body that lies across the door? Why won’t her mind let her remember?

As Dani and Fletcher begin to learn how to love, Sarah Mussi weaves an intoxicating story of pain, fear and redemption.

Review:

As you can see by the summary, this book is set in a rehabilitation clinic and may not be suitable for those who find themes of eating disorders, addiction, abuse and drug use disturbing or triggering.

This book was a bit of an odd one for me. I didn’t really get on with the narrative style: it might have been done to show Dani’s confused thought processes but I just found it jumped around quite randomly and it made it difficult to read sometimes.

There’s a mystery to the story as Dani tries to figure out why she was found in a locked room with a dead body when she was younger. This was interesting but didn’t always seem the focus point of the story: recovery and her relationship with Fletcher were the main bulk of it.

The relationship part was a tricky one. There’s so many books out there that have a ‘love cures all’ story line, which I hate. This didn’t go down that road but I still thought it could be problematic. It’s made clear that Fletcher is trying to ‘save’ Dani and that’s part of his own addictions and problems. I just didn’t like the way he would make deals with her to try and force her to eat. I also found Dani’s friend Kerstin really weird. She didn’t talk like a real person to me: I just couldn’t see her as anything other than a character.

I liked the characterisation of anorexia as an alien. This was something I’d not seen before and helped you to understand what Dani went through a bit better. It did take a little getting used to at first as I didn’t really understand what she was talking about when an alien popped up out of nowhere, but I soon got used to it.

This was an interesting read on a very dark topic – it’s not one to read if you’re after something light and pleasant. I don’t think it’s really for me but if you like the sound of it then give it a try!

3

Book Review: Nothing Tastes as Good (Claire Hennessy)

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 336

Release Date: July 14th 2016

Summary:

Don’t call her a guardian angel. Annabel is dead – but she hasn’t completely gone away. Annabel immediately understands why her first assignment as a ghostly helper is to her old classmate: Julia is fat. And being fat makes you unhappy. Simple, right?

As Annabel shadows Julia’s life in the pressured final year of school, Julia gradually lets Annabel’s voice in, guiding her thoughts towards her body, food and control.

But nothing is as simple as it first seems. Spending time in Julia’s head seems to be having its own effect on Annabel . . . And she knows that once the voices take hold, it’s hard to ignore them.

Review:

This was a bit of a brutal read but I really enjoyed it. I’m not sure it would be suitable for someone with an eating disorder or who’s had problems with that kind of thing in the past: I found it a bit too close to the bone and worry it could be triggering for some.

Annabel is dead and to get a last message to her family, she has to help a soul in need. She’s been assigned to Julia and Annabel can see her problem straight away: she’s fat. But Annabel knows how to fix that and she uses all her tricks to get Julia thinking about food and weight the way she did when she was alive. But as her thoughts influence Julia, Julia’s own thoughts begin to change the way she thinks too.

It’s clear from the very beginning that both girls have problems with food and neither can see that at first. Although her eating disorder caused her heart to fail, Annabel is convinced she was in control and didn’t have a problem. Julia turns to food for comfort and to block out the hurt of the past. But she begins abusing food another way after Annabel’s attempts to ‘help’ her.

Annabel isn’t always a pleasant narrator and I sometimes found her voice hard to listen to. The way she looks at and judges Julia made me think about myself in that way as well – and a post-baby body doesn’t help! Annabel’s is almost like the voice of society – the kind that shows you beautiful, slim women in magazines and tells you it can be achieved my restrictive diets rather than healthy eating, exercise (and probably some airbrushing). At her worst, Annabel’s voice made me want to not eat the things I normally would, which is why I worry it could be hard to read for a person with a history of eating disorders.

She might be harsh and rude at times but I also found Annabel’s voice very realistic and funny at times too. Her running commentary on Julia’s life made me laugh at times and every little observation brought the book to life and made it real for me. It’s an interesting way to tell a book, with a bodiless, almost god-like narrator (though Annabel has some thoughts on God, being dead and all) seeing everything a girl similar to her does and thinks. The writing style is also very easy to read and I really flew through this book.

The ending was very emotional and did bring a tear to my eye. It’s not too happy and perfect but Julia gets some closure and a wonderful girl power moment and Annabel gets to send a message to her family, although not the one she was expecting.

This is a brilliant book in its own right but I also think it’s great for raising awareness too. An eating disorder is a serious illness and ruins lives on a daily basis. Not all are as extreme as Annabel and Julia’s cases but can still be just as bad: as a nation we’re obsessed with body perfection and diets and it’s easy to see how people develop unhealthy relationships with food. But as this book demonstrates, it’s not all about looking skinny either: eating disorders can be about control and make a person feel powerful even as they’re destroying themselves.

As I write this it’s Eating Disorder Awareness week. This is a great book to pick up if you’d like to learn more on the subject.

4

Book Review: Am I Normal Yet? (Holly Bourne)

Publisher: Usborne

Pages: 434

Release Date: August 1st 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

Review:

This has sat on my shelf for a little while now and after a quick poll on Twitter the people spoke and decided this was what I needed to read yet.

My first thought on finishing was OMG why haven’t I read this sooner?!

There were so many times in this book when Evie said the exact thing I’ve thought before. Like the stupid blue gel on the tampon adverts or the special period Nurofen which is just the normal one in a pink packet and twice as expensive. Feminism is a hot topic at the moment and a book like this is a must read for any teen wanting to know more about the subject. While some bits were familiar to me there was a lot that it taught me too. I love the Spinster Club and can’t wait to see how it develops over the next books (I’ve already started reading the sequel!) The book didn’t read too preachy either, showing how feminism related to different situations the girls got into rather than just telling the reader about it.

Another major topic of this book is mental health issues and how Evie deals with her OCD and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Although I feel mental health issues are more talked about now than they were when I was a teen, there’s still a long way to go. This book is a great addition to the conversation though as it bluntly debunks some myths about OCD and addresses the way we talk about mental health. I hate hearing someone say they’re ‘so OCD’ when they like cleaning or something equally trivial. Because that’s not what OCD is about. While I’ve known this, I didn’t really know much about the disorder and I feel Evie’s story is really enlightening. It doesn’t glamourise mental health issues and shows the real ugly side of the condition.

The boy issues in the book felt familiar from my dating days and while it was easier to pick out the jerks from this side of the page, I’ve been in Evie’s position before and it’s so easy to get suckered in by a pair of pretty eyes. I’m glad that Evie didn’t find herself a boyfriend and suddenly her illness was cured: I’ve read books like that before and it’s not only unrealistic but dangerous to teach teens that a relationship fixes all.

The book was really easy to read and got me out of the horrid reading slump I’ve had lately. My dad even got reading it when he visited and said he was engrossed by the first few pages. Bourne has a real talent for writing and I just want to devour all her books now.

 Copy of an art exhibit

Book Review: Consumed (Abbie Rushton)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

Pages: 352

Release Date: April 5th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Myla used to love spending long, hot days on the beach with her sister, Asha. Until the day Asha was taken from her and the sun went out. Forever.

That was two years ago. Myla hasn’t been down to the beach – or even left the house – since. Crippling agoraphobia and panic attacks keep her locked inside a nightmare of the day she can never forget. Her main contact with the outside world is online – until she meets Jamie.

Jamie is new in town and also struggles with things most people find easy. Nobody gets why it’s so hard for him to eat. But, like Myla, Jamie is trapped by his fears and feels anxious, awkward and alone.

Gradually the pair begin to trust each other. Are they willing to reveal their secrets – and risk discovering the truth? Or will they let their pasts consume them for good…

Review:

There were some things I really liked about this book, but other bits that I really struggled with, which kind of spoilt my enjoyment a little.

I liked the mystery element, wondering who murdered Asha and what their motivations were. I managed to guess the person after a couple of obvious clues about half way through, but I didn’t mind as it was still interesting to see the characters work it out and understand how and why it had all happened.

I also liked the main characters. It was great to see a male protagonist with an eating disorder, and I think it’s the first I’ve come across in a book before. That’s really important to me, as I think too often eating disorders are seen as a ‘girls problem’ which just isn’t true. Myla was also a great protagonist. I loved that she was a blogger and a baker. It was interesting to see the effect of the loss of her sister had on her and her family and the different ways which they dealt with it.

The relationship between Jamie and Myla developed nicely in some respects. I liked that they didn’t love each other at first sight – or even like each other really. But neither had anyone else to turn to and circumstance forced them together, which meant a nice little romance developed between them.

What I didn’t like, however, was the was they each helped to ‘cure’ each other’s mental illnesses. Very early on in the relationship, Jamie encourages Myla to leave the house, and she seems willing to do it for him, a guy she barely knows. I know she wanted to get out for herself too, but it just felt a little corny/unbelievable that this basic stranger could come along and get her out the front door when her family and professionals had been unable to. Similarly, it made me cringe to see her trying to make him eat, though I think his recovery was a little slower and more believable.

So I had my problems with how some of the issues were dealt with, but I think that could just be how I interpreted things – you might read it differently. It’s still a well written and interesting book, and a quick and easy read.

3

Book Review: The Dead House (Dawn Kurtagich)

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books

Pages: 440

Release Date: August 6th 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you’ve finished reading.

Review:

I won this book in a competition over at Luna’s Little Library, so massive thanks to her for the copy!

On reading the first few pages of The Dead House, there’s a real sense of promise and intrigue: it just felt like the beginning of something and I was genuinely excited to get stuck into it.

Carly and Kaitlyn are like sisters, aside from the fact that they share the same body: Carly is there in the day, and Kaitlyn gets the night. They have spent some time in a mental health unit, where their doctor tries to convince them they have Dissociative Identity Disorder and that Kaitlyn is just a symptom of this.

The story is pieced together rather than being told through straight narrative: we learn of the events leading up to the ‘Johnson incident’ through Kaitlyn’s diary extracts, post-it notes between her and Carly, transcripts of footage filmed by their friend Naida, and police interviews with other school children and their doctor. All of this makes the story seem bigger than itself: you’re not just reading a story about a particular event, but hearing about it from all different sides, through ‘non-fictional’ methods (yes, I know these are fictional reports etc but it feels real!) just makes it all seem so real.

The book has a real sense of foreboding that make sit the perfect read in the run up to Halloween. The chapters include a kind of count down – “134 days until the incident” – which makes you want to speed through and find out what everything is leading up to.

One of my favourite things about this book was the unreliability of the narration. While some bits may be more concrete than others – the police reports and interviews for example – the majority of the story is told through Kaitlyn’s eyes. We know she has been diagnosed with a mental health issue: even if she doesn’t believe that’s true, it plants the seed of the doubt in your mind. The impossibility of their situation is another one that makes you pause and think: are they really two souls trapped in one body, or is it all part of the disease? Kaitlyn’s narration can often become erratic or abstract, giving you even further reason to doubt her state of mind.

I love that no concrete answer is given to everything. This might not be to everyone’s taste but I liked being able to make up my own mind (or not, which is more the case at the moment). If I’d been told in plain print that it was all down to mental illness, or possession, or just one of those freaky things that inexplicably happens, I think I would have enjoyed it less.

I adored this book all the way through. It was creepy, intriguing and full of twists that I didn’t see coming. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, and it sat with me for days after, niggling at the back of my mind and demanding to be thought about some more. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from Dawn Kurtagich in the future.

Copy of an art exhibit

If you enjoyed this, you might like The Wonderful World of Dissocia by Anthony Neilson

Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here (Patrick Ness)

Publisher: Walker Books

Pages: 352

Release Date: August 27th 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Review:

I mentioned this book in my Books I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read Yet post, and like Asking For It by Louise O’Neill I was particularly desperate to read this one. This is one of the two books from that post that my wonderful partner bought for me, so massive thanks to Nathan for my copy.

If you’ve glanced around my blog before, you may have seen Patrick Ness’ name thrown around a lot: basically, I’m a fan. I loved his Chaos Walking trilogy when I was a teen, and this year I began to read  the rest of his works (which, again, Nathan bought for me for my birthday, so I now own all of Ness’ books).

When this book was announced I was super excited to read it. The premise sounded amazing, especially for a fan of YA. I love the genre, fantasy YA in particular, but it does have its tropes, and this book playfully pokes fun of them in a way I just adored.

Each chapter begins with a summary of what is happening in the world of the ‘indie kids’. You know the ones: they have stupid names, nerdy but somehow cool haircuts and they’re all the Chosen One or about to fall in love with a vampire. We only get a glimpse of the things that they’re up to, and I’ll admit a tiny part of me wanted their story in full, but that’s not what this is about.

This is a story about friendship and coming of age and insecurities, and sure, the end of the world stuff is going on in the background, but that’s just how it is. It makes me wonder about the other fantasy books I’ve read, and what it’s like for the ordinary people in those: the ones who aren’t Chosen and are just hoping to graduate and go to college without the indie kids blowing up the school.

I suppose this book could be considered a bit boring and ordinary, especially when you compare it to Ness’ other works: it’s not his usual style of weird and wonderful fantasy, more a contemporary story of friendship with just a tiny hint of weirdness that’s not really focussed on. I can see it’s not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. He writes wonderful characters and for me, that’s what makes his books so great.

They might not be the Chosen Ones, but the characters in this book have their own stuff to deal with which is just as important. Mikey, our narrator, and his sister Mel both have their own mental health issues to deal with: Mikey’s anxiety and OCD tendencies, and Mel’s recovering anorexia. This isn’t helped by their father’s alcoholism and their mother being in the public eye as a politician (who frequently runs against, and beats their best friend’s dad). Their friends have their own problems too, and it just shows that not everything has to be about saving the world: the little things are just as important, and can feel just as big.

One thing I love about Ness is his ability to write well rounded characters. This comes across most in Mikey, the narrator, who isn’t perfect by any means. I like him, but he’s not always likeable. His jealousy and attitudes towards new comer Nathan kept irritating me, but that’s what made him feel real. You don’t like anyone 100% of the time, and I don’t like characters that are perfect and I can’t dislike just a little bit.

For me, this book is another hit from Ness. It’s completely different to the rest of his work, but that’s not a bad thing. It might poke fun a little at my favourite YA genre, but it’s all in good humour and from someone who’s such a master story teller, I think it’s allowed.

4

If you enjoyed this, you might like More Than This, also by Patrick Ness

#RandomReads July Discussion

For the final post in July’s Random Reads, I’m going to be chatting about this month’s two Random Reads books in a bit more detail.

Our theme for this month was plays. I’ve read quite a few plays, though I have to say most were for studying reasons rather than pleasure (I studied theatre from GCSEs to my Masters degree). Not that I didn’t enjoy a lot of them, I just think it’s difficult to enjoy something sometimes when you’re being forced to read it!

As usual, Stacie and I picked really different books to read, and this time I did enjoy both of them. I’d read them both before, although Top Girls was such a long time ago I could barely remember it. My pick, The Wonderful World of Dissocia is one I’m really familiar with (as I performed in it a few years ago there were some scenes I read and still knew all the lines to too!)

I loved that both plays talked about issues that are incredibly important and close to my heart. Dissocia deals with mental illness, a topic that still has a lot of stigma surrounding it, which it really shouldn’t in this modern age. Similarly, the feminist issues in Top Girls shouldn’t, but are still an issue today, though things may have taken little baby steps forward since the play was written.

While I enjoyed reading both plays, it was clear to me that they were in that medium for a reason. I think I would have enjoyed both even more if I had watched them on stage, although for different reasons.

In Top Girls, I enjoyed reading it as I was able to take my time and understand all the different stories and conversations that often went on all at the same time. But it was also difficult to read with everyone talking over each other: I kept having to try and remember when someone was interrupting and where the conversation started up again and such. I think those parts would have been easier to understand if they were being spoken by the characters rather than being read by just me.

With Dissocia, I started to think it was as funny as I remembered it, and I think that’s because a lot comes from what the actors bring to the characters. There’s so much scope for development and physical humour, and a lot of the jokes rely on the delivery, which I have to say, isn’t always done right inside my head!

I think it was really good for me to read something this month that wasn’t my usual diet of pure YA!  I look forward to seeing what next month brings us.

See Stacie talk about this month’s #RandomReads over at her blog.

Book Review: The Wonderful World of Dissocia (Anthony Neilson)

This review is part of Stacie and Maia’s Random Reads

#RandomReads

Publisher: Methuen Drama

Pages: 120

Release Date: December 19th 2013

Summary (From Goodreads):

Lisa Jones is on a journey. It’s a colourful and exciting off-kilter trip in search of one lost hour that has tipped the balance of her life. The inhabitants of the wonderful world she finds herself in – Dissocia – are a curious blend of the funny, the friendly and the brutal.

Produced originally for the 2004 Edinburgh International Festival, The Wonderful World of Dissocia wowed critics and audiences alike. This Modern Classics edition cements the status of this hugely original play, both magical and moving, that confirmed Anthony Neilson as one of major voices in contemporary British Theatre.

As Neilson himself put it, ‘If you like Alice in Wonderland but there’s not enough sex and violence in it, then Dissocia is the show for you’.

Review:

When our #RandomReads theme this month was picked as plays, I knew almost immediately what I wanted Stacie to read (I had a slight wobble towards something else but it was really only ever this play).My review is going to be pretty positive as this is one of my favourite plays, although I am trying to be balanced/think a little critically. (It also may be a little spoilery, so this is your warning!) I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews on this one so it’ll be interesting to know Stacie’s take on it.

As the quote above says: ‘If you like Alice in Wonderland but there’s not enough sex and violence in it, then Dissocia is the show for you’.

Dissocia does have some elements that remind me of Alice in Wonderland: there’s a lot of clever word play, a lot of weird logic on things that shouldn’t make sense but somehow do and a whole host of kooky characters. But while Alice can seem a little sinister in places, Dissocia takes this to a whole new level, the most disturbing of which is a ‘scapegoat’ who wants to rape Lisa.

Sitting down and reading this, rather acting it out as I did last time was a really different experience. I felt I appreciated some of the jokes more as I could see them on the page, while others I didn’t find as funny as they needed the delivery to make it work.

The second half of Dissocia is really where the message comes through, and probably because of this, can be the bit people dislike. After having such a wild ride in the first act, it can be very sobering to come back in and find a hospital setting, with poor Lisa feeling ill and not wanting to take her medication.

It’s a bit of an in-your-face message but I think it works. The second half makes me feel uncomfortable, it bores me sometimes. You can understand why Lisa would want to leave off the meds and spend some time in wild and fun Dissocia.

Since I first read this play in school, around 7 years ago, it has been my favourite play, and I think it always will be. It’s incredibly fun to read and watch, makes me laugh out loud, and also has a strong message on mental health behind it, a topic that needs to be talked about more.

4
Check out Stacie’s review here

Book Review: It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Ned Vizzini)


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Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 444
Release Date: May 1st 2006
Summary (From Goodreads):


Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.
Review:
I made the mistake of Googling this book before I read it and found out the author committed suicide not long after the book was published and it made it all the more sad and poignant to read.

I struggled to get into this at first because of the dialogue, but I put this down to the fact that I have never been an American teenage boy. And after the first few pages of boy talk, when Craig is on his own, I found myself connecting better.

Craig’s illness is really relatable and it really shows that depression isn’t something abnormal or not understandable: it’s an illness with symptoms like anything else, and more people need to realise this. It’s also easy to see how life puts on these unnecessary pressures as well. My younger sister is 14 and cries every day about her GCSE exams, because she thinks if she doesn’t do well she won’t go to uni and she won’t get a good job and that’s her life over. It’s similar to Craig’s fears and I find it heartbreaking that she’s worrying about that at that age.

I thought the book started a little slow: I was expecting the majority of the book to be set in the hospital, but it took a while to get there, and I didn’t understand the significance of some parts (it came to me later though). I enjoyed Craig’s point of view as a narrator but didn’t find it easy to connect with him sometimes: his obsession with getting some girl action was a little annoying, especially considering his mental health position and where it got him.

I thought the characters were all very fleshed out and colourful, especially the ones inside the hospital – although this sometimes worked against them, as I felt they could be a little over the top some time.

The ending gave me conflicting feelings. I thought it did suggest a little that with a positive attitude and a new girlfriend you could make your depression better, which isn’t really something I believe. But I liked the fact that Craig wasn’t ‘cured’ as such, just getting into a better place.

Once this book got going, I really enjoyed it, but all the way through I couldn’t stop thinking about how sad it is that Ned Vizzini lost his own battle with depression. I hope his light hearted but poignant book has helped others with their own battles.

My Verdict:



Ahaha I love this book, you should totally read it!