The Wales High School: First Diagnosis, by J. Peters, is a memoir talking about the first diagnosis of his mental disease. Who could’ve guessed that the blue-haired, chain-smoking teen Jacques was once an academically bright kid straying far away from any social interaction, let alone drugs. The account starts with freshman year at Wales High School, where Jacques is any other academically bright but socially challenged teenager, trying to fit in with the cool kids. It follows his development through high school, and how he ultimately wins the recognition award for “Most Changed”.
The language of the book is crisp and engaging. It hooks the readers right from the first chapter. The book does a fantastic job of describing how mental illness is seemingly invisible to the patient, and how in their mind, their actions are perfectly rational. The book talks about life before the mental health issues arose and shows readers the events that led up to them and then explains what was going through the patient’s mind during treatment.
This is a true to the soul account of a mental health survivor, the book is free from all the glamorization and undertones of extreme morbidity that often are found in books on similar topics. Rather than catch the readers’ eye, the author simply states his story, a true account. This honesty hooks the reader and made me want to know more and dive deeper.
While this is a thought-provoking and authentic story, I felt that the book did not provide a deeper insight into the feelings of Jacques. Even though it does a brilliant job of talking about the thoughts and explaining what a mental health patient thinks, I wanted it to be more emotive. I felt that a deeper dive into the emotions and subconscious of Jacques would have added a greater depth to the entire account.
I really enjoyed Wales High School: First Diagnosis for its extreme candor and simple yet engaging language. With a relatable plot, and short and crisp chapters, the book is hard to put down. It resonates with teenagers going through a similar phase in life and to friends and family who struggle to understand their child, help them, and be there for them. This is by far the truest account that I have come across about mental health issues.
Pages: 110 | ASIN: B086381MYV
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Someone’s Story follows a teen struggling with depression along with a host of other high school challenges and finds a group of weirdos that save him from the dark depths of his mind. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I went through a rough patch in life and this started as a journal. After about a half-year of reflecting and journaling, I decided to turn it into fiction. I combined many people from my past to get the robust characters we have at the end. I also play with the timeline as all this did not happen inside a year but rather over 5 or 6 years. As an adult, you get older and you fall out of contact with those people from your past. In a way, this was me letting them know I was always paying attention.
Someone is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Originally it was me. The anxiety and the cleverness, combined with the running. I am a deep-thinking introvert and that side of me comes out in Someone for sure. Where the character took flight was when I combined two people from my past with myself. By bringing in their flaws and trauma I was able to create a firecracker of a character. The decision to leave the character named Someone was because I didn’t feel it was fair to make this from my perspective or to call the main character myself. By just leaving them as Someone, I better honor all the people that rolled into this character.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Mental health, friendship, love, loss, pop culture, drug use culture.
I wanted this to read pretty normal for the first 60% so I tried to pull from my past and give genuine heartfelt chapters from my past. I think I also do a good job showing broken homes and “busy” parents. Of course, the ending hits hard and mental health becomes the central theme. Jogging and writing are tools to help with mental health. I am not an expert on mental health in any way but I can say that jogging and writing help balance me. I know when I struggle the most it is because I have let those two things fall off my schedule.
This is a fantastic debut novel. What were some surprising challenges you faced while writing?
I do not have any technical English training. I used a pair of editors to help me with tense and spelling. The editors are critical to my process and both came back to help on my second novel. The plot and characters come naturally to me and I can write 50K words in a few months, then I spend 6+ months going back and forth with the editors. I went down a 2-year rabbit hole learning how to self-publish and then self-market. I had no idea how hard it would be to market a novel. You have to get on social media every single day for years to get steam. My second novel release is going to be so much bigger with all the skills and connections I made along the way though.
Posted in Interviews
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This book explores the journey of a successful Black woman who is trying to balance family, love, and her career.
I used to believe in fairy tales. I knew that one day a Prince Charming would come and sweep me off of my feet, but those fairy tales I once believed in turned into nightmares. I once thought that love didn’t cost a thing, but I was wrong. The wrong love could cost you everything.
This is an emotional memoir that outlines a series of emotional abuse relationships plagued by cheating, jealousy and depression. The main character was able to push through and become motivation for other women who have been emotionally scared.
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Tags: abuse, author, biography, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, book trailer, bookblogger, books, books to read, booktube, booktuber, depression, Dr Jovon Willis, ebook, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, memoir, nonfiction, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, The Price You Pay, trailer, writer, writing
Driven follows a young man who fights to achieve his dreams while trying to pull his dad out of his depression. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I was asked to participate in the Legacy Series of teen sports novels by my publisher and gladly accepted. At that same time, my wife and I were on the phone with my stepson who had played high school sports, and I asked him to help me develop a theme. He had gone through what Gabe had to go through with the rich kids in school getting playing time over those who had played hard for their four years and felt thrust aside because of wealthy parents. The theme was established.
The depression arc with Gabe’s father was based on my depression and the struggle I encountered to even get up off of the couch some days. Even though I didn’t drink my way through it, the struggle is very hard. Whenever I get the opportunity to talk about it or help others through it, I do. The white fleece jacket that Gabe’s father wore was the same one I wore each and every day of my depression. It was my security blanket, keeping me mentally safe.
Gabe is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Every story has to have conflict and a hero to fight through it. Realizing what was going on in his town and that he was the only one who could help himself achieve his dreams, I wanted to use Gabe to bring focus to teenagers the concept that life isn’t handed to them, they have to go out and get it on their own through hard work and tenacity. In today’s world where so many young kids fall into that “me” mentality, I also wanted to stress the importance of family. No one is more important than family. And although I realize that not everyone has the same core family of mother and father, they still have parental role models. And, good or bad, we all need to be there for our families and friends.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The fact that money can’t buy you everything, the importance of family and helping those in need, and the possibility that life can be lived and conflict can be resolved with “No Hate in the Heart”. Those were the main themes.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have written a series of mid-grade books called The Gazore Series, which is an older kid’s tribute to Dr. Seuss, and am currently working on turning that into a podcast with 9 episodes completed so far. My current sports book is a hockey book entitled Blindsided. The Gazore Series and Podcast are available now and Blindsided I hope to get finished soon. I am approximately two-thirds of the way through that.
Posted in Interviews
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It’s the year 2003. Teenagers are messaging each other online, listening to punk music on MP3 players, and writing blogs on LiveJournal to fit in. One such teen is walking the halls of Wales High School with bright shirts, leather jackets, and blue hair: Jacques Peters. He’s determined to become best friends with one of the coolest guys in school, Davis Mavis. But he soon discovers that smoking, skipping class, and putting up a front aren’t as cool as they seem, particularly when mental health is involved. His friends gossip behind his back, push him out of their clique, and turn a blind eye to the cuts on his wrists. He’s dragged into a life that leads to a long stay in a psychiatric ward he hates, full of therapy, pills, and a strict routine.
That troubled teen is me.
When I was discharged, I was in a daze. Numbed by medication and left with few friends, I spent my days listening to music and giving my teachers lip. Eventually, on a cold winter night home alone, I posted a single word on my blog: “goodbye.” I took a cocktail of pills and hoped to slip into an endless sleep.
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Someone to Kiss My Scars by Brooke Skipstone defies standard categorization as it is a wonderful amalgam of coming of age, mystery, science fiction, and love story. I would say it is suitable for mature teens, and add that I, as an adult reader, thoroughly enjoyed Someone to Kiss My Scars and never felt it was juvenile while reading it. In fact, the introduction from Skipstone made me a little bit nervous – did I want to read about sexual abuse, depression, and suicide, given that 2020 has already been a challenging year? But, as Skipstone poignantly says, the novel not should be read by “anyone who desires to remain in the dark despite being in a position to shine light.” Having loved and lost family members and friends to depression, I felt incredibly moved by Skipstone’s goal in creating this deeply thoughtful novel, and am so glad I continued reading Someone to Kiss My Scars.
The novel centers on teenage Hunter Williams, who recently moved to rural Alaska, and his only friend in town, Jazz. Mysteriously, Hunter cannot seem to remember much of his life before he and his father moved to Alaska a year ago. He’s been told his mother and brother died in an accident, but everything is blurry to him, with haunting memories coming in sporadic glimpses. Hunter is a voracious writer, though, with a seemingly supernatural ability to write incredibly detailed stories that, impossibly, seem to recreate the memories of those around him. As Hunter and Jazz begin to understand more about his special writing ability and how it impacts those around him, they are faced with a decision: should they share his power and use it for good or is it better to keep it a secret?
Someone to Kiss My Scars is incredibly hard to read at times because of its heavy subject matter, but I found the hardship to be eye-opening and beautiful. The pains that Skipstone describes felt unfathomable to me, but I know that the experiences described have happened to many people, and, as Skipstone cites, abuse, depression, and trauma are exceedingly common in Alaska. I was engrossed fully in the plot and raced through the chapters, often staying up late to find out what happened next.
I was not expecting to love Someone to Kiss My Scars as much as I did, and I am thankful for Skipstone for her work in creating this novel. It is highly unusual to read a book and feel like the book has changed you for the better, but that is how I felt after reading it. Someone to Kiss My Scars opened my worldview to the experiences not only of those living in rural Alaska, but also to the pains of depression and abuse which are prevalent but rarely discussed. I would highly recommend this novel to any reader, and assure you that even though the subject matter is heavy, the novel is ultimately one of hope and forgiveness that will encourage you to believe in the good in the world.
Pages: 316 | ASIN: B07X4JLY22
Tags: abuse, author, book, book review, bookblogger, Brooke Skipstone, contemporary, depression, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, Someone To Kiss My Scars, story, suspense, thriller, urban fantasy, writer, writing, young adult
Every mother’s journey is unique, however, they all share one thing: heartache. In one way or another, every mother travels down a difficult road as she fights tooth and nail to bring her child to adulthood unscathed. Sandra Bowman, author of The Farthest-Reaching Ball: A Memoir of Motherhood is no stranger to heartache. As the mother of two children, Grant and Parker, Bowman relates the trials and tribulations she overcomes as she raises her children virtually on her own. A mother’s love is nowhere more evident than in Bowman’s explanation of how she comes to understand the needs of her children and the struggle that has permeated her son’s life since an early age.
Sandra Bowman describes virtually every aspect of her journey as a mother in her poignant memoir, The Farthest-Reaching Ball. She details the birth of her sons so vividly that I felt, as the reader, that I attended the delivery. Her emotions surrounding the births are clearly drawn, and any parent who has experienced a particularly difficult birth will appreciate how very frank Bowman is with her details.
As a teacher, I am struck by the battle Bowman and her son, Grant, face as he begins school. His gifts are both amazing and obvious to all, but the obstacles he faces are numerous. Children with talents beyond those of the average child are often overlooked in the regular classroom, and they are not always afforded the opportunity to showcase their skills. Grant is one of those children with a mother on a mission to find a setting that suits her child’s best interests.
When Bowman’s son begins to experience behavior challenges and depression sets in, the author’s challenges multiply. Moreover, Grant’s own slowly-revealed identity crisis begins to consume his thoughts and every interaction. Bowman is more than understanding and is the proverbial mother bear–she is fierce and stops at nothing to make sure her child is content with himself. The author is beyond adept at communicating her feelings and her ever-fluctuating fears regarding Grant’s mental state. His worries are her worries, and his unhappiness is hers to bear.
There doesn’t seem to be a problem Bowman and her son haven’t endured. From excessive weight gain, to depression, to attention deficit disorder, Grant runs the gamut. Bowman is exceptionally open with her own feelings of defeat, despair, and utter helplessness. She is at loss as to how to help her son deal with an identity crisis that threatens to be the end of them all. Mothers of all walks of life can relate to Bowman’s honesty as she admits to her own suicidal thoughts.
I am impressed with Bowman’s forthrightness and openness. She lays out every frustration, worry, and obstacle for readers and shares with them the most intimate of details about her own regrets as a mother. Parents of children struggling with identity crises of all types will appreciate Bowman’s story.
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MAMA SOU is the true story of a young mother who gets her son taken away. This book is pure love and emotion and nearly had me in tears several times. As the story unfolds, you see how much love Maria has for her son, and how she will do anything to get him back. She is strong, independent, and ready to fight for what is hers. Aside from the incredible story that is being told in these pages, the writing is superb and beautifully delivers a fully realized vision of the characters and the places they inhabit. It is incredible the lengths that people go to for their family, and the fact that this is someone’s real story is both beautiful and heartbreaking.
Whether you are a parent or not, you will feel the love that went into writing this story, and the emotions between the people in the story. The author, the mother herself, pours her heart into every chapter. I’ve read some books like this one, where a young mother struggles to gain her family back, but there is something special about Maria’s story. Maybe it’s the year that it happened, which was some 40 years ago, when these types of things weren’t really talked about, or maybe it’s because it happened in Greece. Either way, it holds a special place in my heart, and I will not forget this story any time soon.
As someone who has suffered from depression most of my life, seeing how Maria handled her depression was inspirational. That fact that she was able to fight for what she so desperately needed, all while dealing with mental illness, was incredible. I fully enjoyed this book, I think that whether you have kids or not, you will find some special meaning within these pages. The story is sometimes harsh, sometimes sweet, but definitely full of lessons to learn for everyone that reads it. I only wish that we could learn more about Maria and her story, and more about her son.
Pages: 118 | ASIN: B0793VJFFG
Tags: alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, biography, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, depression, divorce, ebook, education, family, goodreads, greece, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, mama sou, maria griggs, memoir, mental health, metamorphosis of a mother, mom, mother, nonfiction, nook, novel, parenting, parents, publishing, read, reader, reading, relationship, self help, shelfari, smashwords, story, tyler clapp, writer, writer community, writing