Someone’s Story by award winning author B.A. Bellec follows a seventeen-year-old teenager who wants to be referred to as “Someone”. When young, naive, and inherently “weird” Someone moves to a new town and is suddenly faced with the grueling challenges of adapting in high school; academics, crushes, bullying, and making friends in an environment not suited for many personality types, especially introverts. As Someone navigates through the complexities of high school life, he struggles with the feeling of not belonging, friends who don’t really want the best for him, friends who do, and the most daunting of all; mental illness. And so as he goes through all these seemingly normal activities, Someone is dealing with an internal struggle which leads to a couple of surprising plot twists and a mind-blowing finale.
This book is written in a poetic narrative using short and simple sentences which is similar to the way actual modern day teenagers speak. The writing style is unorthodox, but it makes for a wonderful literary treat. The pacing is somewhat slow at the beginning, and it feels like the plot is just random occurrences happening to the main character. However as the story progresses, these connect with each other to form the plot as a whole. Also, what at first seems like a mundane high school story – typical mean popular kids, the outcasts, and inspirational teachers- evolves into a series of surprising plot twists that keep the story fresh and interesting.
A very important aspect of this book is the way the main character (Someone) is written. It is revealed that he struggles with mental illness. But what really matters is the way it is portrayed. Someone is shown to go to parties, make friends, and do okay academically, which is pretty accurate. People hear depression and expect the character to be bed-ridden and unable to complete basic daily life tasks but that is not usually the case, and it’s beautiful how this book shows that mental illness can come in many shapes and sizes and could be happening to anyone.
Someone’s Story is a uniquely thoughtful young adult novel that accurately portrays what mental illness can feel like both for the person who struggles with it and the people around them. This is an impassioned and emotionally resonant story that will stay with you for a long time.
Pages: 330 | ASIN: B086Q2Y41W
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Who’s Jerry?, by T.M. Jackson is a heartwarming children’s story of little Imani’s experiences with her Schizophrenic mother. It shows her struggles of not understanding her mother’s behavior, and how it affected her. We get a look at Imani’s life at school and her many jumbled emotions. Then, as Imani learns about her mother’s mental illness, she begins to understand why her mother behaved in such a harsh and hurtful way. Finally, little Imani gets to spend time with her mom again, and do all the things they love.
T.M Jackson succeeded in writing about a sensitive topic like Schizophrenia without it being frightening or uncomfortable. The story was told from Imani’s perspective which allowed us to relate to her feelings and understand what she’s going through. The art all throughout the story was a great visualization of the character’s actions and emotions, it was definitely the strongest component of the book.
I am giving Who’s Jerry?, by T.M Jackson 5 out of 5 stars for its inspiring and heartfelt storyline accompanied by gorgeous artwork. The story is easy for children to understand and is a great tool for kids who may have family members with a mental illness. T.M Jackson was able to show that even if someone in your family has a mental illness, it’s not a bad thing and you can still have a great time together.
Pages: 36 | ASIN : B08N5F5PT7
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Brian’s Journey is an emotional memoir about your son and the grief you felt when you lost him. What inspired you to write this book?
I truly believe it was/is to help other families that have gone through the horrific loss of losing a child, they are not alone. Also, I felt so strongly whilst writing that Brian wanted his story told. Mental illness can happen to anybody at anytime. It came on so fast with Brian, and although we will never know if it was the steriods, pot or the hit on the head that caused his paranoia.
I appreciated the candid nature with which you told this story. What were some ideas that were important for you to focus on in this book?
I tried to focus on the positive. Not to allow the darkness to take over my life. It was not easy. With all the signs I kept receiving while writing, I knew there was a higher power at play. I learned that my son was /is still around in spirit and that his energy just changed form. I forced myself to look at all the beauty around me and not the negative. Brian did that, and helped me heal and look forward to completing my journey, however long that may be.
What do you hope is one thing readers take away from Brian’s Journey?
The hardest thing about coping with loss, in my opinion, was the shear suddenness of my son passing away. It was a shock and happened so fast. When I knew my brother was sick or my mom, you knew the inevitable of their passing would eventually happen. I had no idea that morning my son would be gone from this earth. All my hopes & dreams were shattered beyond words.
What do you feel is the hardest thing about coping with loss? And what is one piece of advice you would give to someone?
My advice to any parent losing a child or loved one…. it really is not the end. Spiritually, it’s only the beginning for our loved one. Our turn will come when our journey is complete. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience, know & believe we will be with them again. Each and everyday we are one day closer to that Heavenly Reunion. Talk to them and listen to your heart that they hear you. They are never far to comfort you in your time of need. Remember, love never dies and we take it with us when we pass from this life to the next.
Posted in Interviews
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Hinterland by LM Brown is about Nicholas Giovanni and his love for his daughter Kate. That love is apparent throughout the novel. Kate’s mother, Kathleen, is mentally unwell and the arrival of Ina, Nicholas’s childhood best friend, sends her over the edge. Violence ends with Kathleen admitted to the hospital. Nicholas can’t bring himself to tell Ina the truth about Kathleen’s last day, nor can he tell Kate the truth about where her mother is, and this secret ultimately causes Kate to run away. Kate running away forces Nicholas to confront these truths.
Hinterland is about dysfunctional families and mental illness. Understanding mental illness is important, yet we still live in a world where it has a stigma attached. This book explores that stigma. The opening has a very gloomy feeling, which for me captures the way Nicholas seems to feel. His entire life centers around driving his taxi and his daughter and not much else. With the return of Ina and Kathleen being admitted to the hospital, it ought to have been an opportunity for Nicholas to come out of the gloom. But he seems afraid to do that and is weighed down by the burden of what happened the day Kathleen was admitted to hospital. I struggled to find a connection to Nicholas. I could sympathize with Ina, with her frustrations at being back with the man she loves, yet only being fed breadcrumbs from him. She almost has a family life with the relationship she develops with Kate, yet Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length, his secrets building a barrier between him and all those he loves.
The pace of the book is slow, building up the tension to the end of the book when Nicholas must try to rescue his family. I found the first half of the book to be slow, but I understand that was necessary to build the story. I think there was the potential for more drama and conflict, although given his past, it seems apt that Nicholas strives to avoid this. He is a silent, brooding character, keeping many parts of himself locked up, even from those who love him. I would have preferred to see Nicholas open up a little more though, he was difficult to connect with. The book does a great job of trying to portray the difficulties involved in living with mental illness in the family.
Pages: 338 | ISBN: 1947917587
Broken Melody is a contemporary fiction novel that follows the life of Alana, alias Sunshine, and her assorted friends. Nikki Haase drew motivation for writing this book from Casey Clayton, her friend’s journey of addiction, recovery and death. The book is a voice for those struggling with drug addiction, depression and other mental illnesses. Alana was the perfect daughter and student, acing her grades and making her parents proud. But deep down she was fighting monsters that only she knew of.
Nikki Haase has an enthralling way of introducing fascinating characters to readers. This book is an invitation into the mind and life of a young person struggling with addiction. It is heart-wrenching to see the potential in a person slowly chipped away at.
The main theme of the book is drug addiction. Nikki Haase has captured the struggles and raw emotions that most addicts grapple with, and I appreciated the unfiltered view we’re given. Alana’s journey is a sad one, although not a completely lonely one as she has her friends like Skylar and Xavier and her girlfriend Casey. The prose captures the voice of new adult angst and gives the characters an authenticity that makes them endearing and their stories all the more tragic. I think that by the second or third chapter I was interested in Alana’s character, by the mid point I wanted to know more, and by the end I was desperate to know more. Will she survive her addiction? Will her friends stick with her throughout the process? Will Casey love her beside all her inner demons?
The author shows the importance of friendships and speaking out when going through hard times in life. The story seemed too real to be cliché and the author has done a good job of incorporating supporting themes like mental illness, love and friendship. Nikki Haase has a unique way of bringing out serious issues through humor. The other unique thing about Broken Melody is that the author shows the other side of addiction, one that most people do not know about. For instance at the end of the book, readers are introduced to the other side of Rabbit. Throughout the book, Rabbit is known to be a hardcore drug dealer but he does something at the end that surprised me. I would recommend the book to fiction lovers, people struggling with substance abuse and those living with addicts.
Pages: 302 | ASIN: B08B2Q5YDP
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Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects thoughts, emotions and even behavior. It’s severity is achieved gradually with symptoms that include hallucinations, altered reality and even disorganized thinking among others. Often when it is believed that the patient will be a danger to his or herself and others, they are institutionalized so the condition can be stabilized.
Max Happiness, written in first person narrative, is a series of thoughts as they run through the character’s mind. This character is schizophrenic and therefore presents many different ideas in quick succession. This presentation of thought provides insight into how people with this condition think and feel if they are misunderstood. As a person looking in from the outside, one would be compelled to quickly dispel any fantasies or notions that do not conform to reality. However, from this text it is clear that the approach used to do this matters quite a bit. The person in this book talks about how his ‘abilities’ albeit imagined have had him committed.
This book by Ali Ismail is enlightening, but not in an informational booklet kind of way. It is enlightening in that it gives the reader first hand experience of a schizophrenic’s train of thought. This is meant as an advocacy exercise for people with this condition. To raise awareness and shine a light on their plight. They really do believe the things they utter so there is need for some sensitivity when interacting with them. From the way the thoughts are structured, it is clear that this character is an otherwise sober individual.
The author has done well to introduce the character first before introducing the condition they suffer from. I think this gives the reader time to endear themselves to the character before they can start to sympathize. The author has also done a good job of making the prose so confusing and discombobulating that one feels like they are reading an anagram. The spontaneity of speech and thought is quite complicated. This provides a truly accurate picture of the patient’s thought process.
This book is a good effort towards advocacy for schizophrenia. However, it does require a bit of an edit. For example, use the right ‘there/their’ and so on. For such a short book, these little mistakes really do stand out.
Otherwise, this is worth taking the twenty minutes or so that you would need to read the contents. It is also worth the one minute it will take to recommend it to someone. It would be nice to expand it a little more to provide a more wholesome picture of the life of the character. This is just one day in the life.
Pages: 6 | ASIN: B07N2RHTW5
WEIRD – or Weird Consequences of a Bedbug Incident, by Regine Dubono is intended to help struggling families see things from a fresh perspective.
Desiree, the focal character in the story, suffers from several disabilities and regularly undergoes treatments for many of them, including mental illness, physical disabilities, and many others. Despite her many conditions, however, she was also highly talented in many ways.
Regine Dubono calls into question the modern psychiatric practice of creating within people a sense of weakness which should therefore be treated with any number of serious and life-altering psychiatric drugs.
The author brings a lot of things to focus through her story, but one of the most powerful is the fact that there is serious repercussions that come from taking these types of medications. Most notably, feelings of being helpless and dependent on the prescribed cocktail of pharmaceuticals. Even more, though, how damaging the wrong drugs can be for a person.
In fact, Desiree suffered the unfortunate fate of being experimented on through pharmaceutical trials on more than one occasion, ending up in states that seemed utterly hopeless, prompting ‘professional opinion’ to recommend Desiree to permanent hospitalization. It was only when she was allowed to stay clear from the drugs and given the personal agency to operate certain aspects of her life that she showed any real signs of improvement and comfort.
The moral of the story is clear and a much needed one at that. Parents, as well as anyone else acting as caretaker for a disabled person, should keep a close eye on the treatment programs and medications that are often administered. Are they doing more harm than good? Are they helping at all? Whatever the case may be, the author’s mission in writing this diary of events outlining Desiree’s life and experiences is to provide anecdotal evidence. The evidence suggests, among other things, that entrusting medical professionals to decisions related to the best interests of the patient is not always the best approach.
In terms of accessibility and style, the majority of Weird – or Weird Consequences of a Bedbug Incident is provided in diary form. As such, it reads as more of a collection of personal notes as opposed to being a dramatized novel. The situations are genuine. The times and places are all accurate. And the notes offered for all the various situations the author faced are about as eye opening as anything else in this category. This is certainly a unique work that deserves attention.
Pages: 220 | ASIN: 1329529731
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An Invisible Child is a story based on the heart wrenching experiences of Lenore Ossen. It tells the tale of her lonely and traumatic childhood, growing up with a mother suffering from mental illness; isolated and trapped away from the real world. Deprived of social interaction, friendships and even family relationships she tells the story of how she endured life living within the restrictive and peculiar rules set by her mother, living in a constant state of fear. She describes how at times she hated her mother, yet was constantly trying to please and make her mother happy.
The book is a chronological recount of her life, as she remembers it, with the help of notes her uncle wrote. Her experiences range from sad, to strange and almost unbelievable. Some of the more disturbing experiences include her relationship with her father and her lack of life experiences.
Her lack of relationship with her father had an enormous impact on Lenore. She craved physical and emotional contact with him, but rarely received it. When he did show her affection, her mother was quick to put an end to it with cruel comments. Her uncle wrote in his notes that “George was a plain, simple fellow who wanted what all men want: a wife, a home, the love and affection of his wife and child. He had none of this.” Lenore’s chance at a relationship was further compromised when he moved out of the family home. All hopes ended when he died and disappeared from her life altogether -although disturbingly her mother did not tell her for over a year that he had died.
As she became a teenager she gained more self-awareness. Lenore became conscious of all the ‘normal’ life experiences she was missing out on. At 14 she had never been on the subway, never played with other children, never purchased anything in a store, never spoken on the telephone or handled money. She writes of her distress as she contemplated all the experiences she should have been having.
Although this is a shocking and heart-breaking story, it is also a story of hope. As she grows older, she slowly gains confidence. She pushes herself far beyond her comfort zone, and literally steps out of the apartment. Lenore attempts everyday tasks and teaches herself age appropriate skills for living in society. At times she makes mistakes, however she learns from these as any intelligent person does. She gains the courage and confidence to overcome her life of abuse, showing others that no matter what road you have traveled there is hope for your future.
Pages: 628 | ASIN: B01LXCKCE6
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