Mental health/illness

All posts tagged Mental health/illness

Talking About Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon with Chrissi Reads

Published March 2, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

A new Sunday Times bestseller from Bryony Gordon, Telegraph columnist and author of the bestselling The Wrong Knickers. For readers who enjoyed Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive and Ruby Wax’s Sane New World, Mad Girl is a shocking, funny, unpredictable, heart-wrenching, raw and jaw-droppingly truthful celebration of life with mental illness.

‘I loved it. A brilliant fast and funny and frank look at something that absolutely needs to be talked about in this way’ Matt Haig

Bryony Gordon has OCD.

It’s the snake in her brain that has told her ever since she was a teenager that her world is about to come crashing down: that her family might die if she doesn’t repeat a phrase 5 times, or that she might have murdered someone and forgotten about it. It’s caused alopecia, bulimia, and drug dependency. And Bryony is sick of it. Keeping silent about her illness has given it a cachet it simply does not deserve, so here she shares her story with trademark wit and dazzling honesty.

A hugely successful columnist for the Telegraph, a bestselling author, and a happily married mother of an adorable daughter, Bryony has managed to laugh and live well while simultaneously grappling with her illness. Now it’s time for her to speak out. Writing with her characteristic warmth and dark humor, Bryony explores her relationship with her OCD and depression as only she can.

Mad Girl is a shocking, funny, unpredictable, heart-wrenching, raw and jaw-droppingly truthful celebration of life with mental illness.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: What do you make of the cover, its subtitle and the title? I find it interesting that this particular cover is yellow!

BETH: Well, I had to actually pick your brain on this one as you had a lot more insights than me, haha! So the title and subtitle is Mad Girl – A Happy Life With A Mixed-Up Mind and is bright yellow. The colour yellow is notoriously quite a cheery and happy cover which is ironic considering the subject matter, a woman talking about her OCD, depression and other mental health issues. The cover immediately attracted me because of the bright cover and the suggestion that although OCD and depression are far from a barrel of laughs (I should know!) the author would take us on a journey with some dark points but some light, funny moments along the way. Mental health is not funny on any level but making light of certain experiences can give other people the bravery to face their own demons and be better equipped to deal with their problems. It certainly felt that way to me and I got a lot out of this book.

BETH: How did you feel that anxiety and depression was portrayed in Bryony’s story?

CHRISSI: Hmm… good question. I liked how there were some lighter, funnier moments within the story. I think that Bryony Gordon mixed humour in really well. But I also appreciated the moments where there were darker points to her story. It’s not sunshine and showers and it’s certainly not something to be laughed at, but in making some light jokes on the situation, Bryony is showing the reader that she’s human too and is going through a constant battle. I know for many sufferers, if not all, mental illness will always be present. It’s how you battle it that matters/

CHRISSI: Mad Girl talks about some difficult issues. Discuss how Bryony Gordon mixes humour with her descriptions of darker emotions and situations.

BETH: As I rambled on about in my previous answer (maybe I should start reading questions ahead of typing?!) Bryony deals with some very difficult issues in her book. There are eating disorders, emotional abuse, addiction… to name a few. However, it never felt too much as there was always a note of humour to make even the darker situations easier to read and experience. I felt like I had scarily so much in common with Bryony and I tend to use humour as a defence mechanism myself to deal with horrible stuff. It just made me warm to her more to be perfectly honest.

BETH: Mad Girl is described as a celebration of life with mental illness. Do you think this came across in the author’s writing?

CHRISSI: I do feel like Mad Girl does celebrate Bryony’s life with a mental illness. Despite everything that Bryony goes through, she still comes across as someone that’s enjoying her life in the main part and is desperate to not let the mental illness dictate how she lives her life. That’s inspiring!

CHRISSI: Was the humour ever too much?

BETH: For me personally, no it wasn’t. I think some of the things she talked about, especially when she talked about her first serious relationship could have really got to me and put me back into quite a dark place. However, when I felt close to feeling that way, I felt the situation in my head was defused by a hilarious line that made me smile (or laugh out loud…sorry fellow train passengers!) that cheered me up and got me out of my own head again. Without that I think it would have been too much.

BETH: You’re not normally a fan of non-fiction. How much did you enjoy this book compared to other non-fiction you’ve read?

CHRISSI: Indeed, I’m not a fan of non-fiction. However, I enjoy reading non-fiction books when they centre around a subject I’m interested in or a subject close to my heart, which in this case, is Mad Girl. I am a ‘mad girl.’ There’s an awful lot I could relate to in this book, so it didn’t feel like I was being bogged down with information. It felt like I was chatting to a friend.

CHRISSI: What do you feel you have gained from reading this book?

BETH: The knowledge that I’m not the only weirdo in the village?! No, seriously I loved reading about Bryony’s life and as I mentioned before, felt I had an awful lot in common with her. You look at other people and the success they’ve had, especially if they’ve had a lot to deal with in their past and present (and probably future) and I’m in awe of what she’s achieved. It makes me hopeful for my own future. I also think it’s so so important to talk about mental health issues and your thoughts and feelings out there so people can realise they are definitely not on their own.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would! I enjoyed her writing style and humour!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

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CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

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Banned Books 2017 – FEBRUARY READ – The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time – Mark Haddon

Published February 27, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

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Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the second banned book of 2016! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. If you would like to read along with us, here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

MARCH – Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

APRIL –  Habibi – Craig Thompson

MAY – Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story From Afghanistan – Jeanette Winter

JUNE – Saga, Volume Two (Chapters 7-12) – Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

JULY – The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

AUGUST – Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

SEPTEMBER – Scary Stories – Alvin Schwartz

OCTOBER – ttyl – Lauren Myracle

NOVEMBER – The Color Of Earth – Kim Dong Hwa

DECEMBER – The Agony Of Alice – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

But back to this month….

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon

First published: 2003

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2015 (source)

Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”)

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: First of all, I can’t believe that this book is now fourteen years old! That blows my mind. Chrissi and I read it not long after it had first come out and it’s one of those books that we’ve both kept on our favourite shelves, such was the impact it had on us. Things haven’t changed that much in the last fourteen years so my opinion is going to be the same for the first two questions. (We may be a little biased also because it is one of our favourite books!) Only one of the reasons I can accept as being an accurate reflection of what is in the book but that is not to say that I necessarily agree with it.

This is the offensive language reason which, although I don’t think it’s particularly over-used in the novel but I admit there are several instances of swearing and even one instance of the “c” word which may offend some people and fair enough. You are entitled to be offended by foul language – that is your prerogative. However, I don’t see bad language as a reason to ban/challenge a book outright as I don’t think you can shield children from things they are more than likely to hear in the playground/on television/in the streets if they don’t read it in books.

CHRISSI: Fourteen years old. That’s crazy! I still remember reading it for the first time and being really impressed. On my re-read I was just as impressed. To be honest, I can see why it might be challenged due to profanity, but that’s not to say I don’t agree with it. Some children are exposed to profanity in their every day lives and I don’t think challenging a book because of that is the right thing to do. I can almost guarantee that this book wouldn’t be the first time children had heard bad language. Would I read it in the classroom? No. But it still deserves to be in the library just waiting to be explored.

How about now?

BETH: Same answer – I don’t agree with the reasons for banning/challenging this book. Particularly those that wax on about a religious viewpoint/atheism. Personally, I love learning about beliefs from all over the globe from a variety of different people and I really can’t remember an instance in this book where I felt like the character’s religious views were shoved down my throat. I’ve read books before that fall into the “preachy” line and was immediately put off however this was unequivocally NOT this kind of book. As for it being inappropriate for the age group (young adult) – seriously what was so appalling that a well-adjusted or even not so well adjusted teenager should be protected from this book??

CHRISSI: Again, I wouldn’t personally use it in the classroom with teenagers (if I taught teenagers!) but I’d highly recommend it to them to read as an independent choice. Yes, there’s bad language, but as I mentioned before they’ll hear it anyway. I teach a boy with Asperger’s and I could recognise so many qualities in our main protagonist. I believe that many people with autism could find something special in this book. Those that don’t, can get an insight into what life is like for those with ASD.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: Well, this is pretty obvious I guess….I loved it! I’m always worried when reading an old favourite that I won’t enjoy it as much as I did previously however this definitely wasn’t the case. In fact, I feel I got even more from the book than I did on the first reading and especially loved the additional illustrations and maths problems that broke up the text and gave us a real insight into the mind of Christopher. It is so important that conditions such as Asperger’s are highlighted and I think a book like this could really help anyone with it or those who know someone with it. For me, it was an education and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

CHRISSI: I really enjoyed rediscovering this book. As I mentioned, I have experience with children on both ends of the spectrum and it reminded me how difficult life can be for them. It made me feel super proud of their day-to-day achievements.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

BETH’S personal star rating (out of 5):

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Join us again on the last Monday of March when we will be discussing Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

 

Blog Tour – A Boy Made Of Blocks – Keith Stuart

Published January 18, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Discover a unique, funny and moving debut that will make you laugh, cry and smile.

Meet thirtysomething dad, Alex
He loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. Something has to change. And he needs to start with himself.

Meet eight-year-old Sam
Beautiful, surprising, autistic. To him the world is a puzzle he can’t solve on his own.

But when Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other . . .

Can one fragmented family put themselves back together, one piece at a time?

Inspired by the author’s experiences with his own son, A Boy Made of Blocks is an astonishingly authentic story of love, family and autism.

What did I think?:

I first heard about this book from my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads who absolutely loved it. When my sister makes a recommendation, I take her up on it as she definitely knows the kind of books that I get excited about. Then when Little, Brown publishers asked me if I’d like to be part of the blog tour, I jumped at the chance. (thank you very much to them!) In my opinion, the more people know about this wonderful debut novel, the better as it’s just THAT GOOD. I haven’t been as moved or felt so emotionally wrung out for a while and I love when a book gets under my skin like that.

So, the story follows thirty-something Alex, married to Jody with a young son called Sam. When we first meet Alex, he isn’t having the best time of it. His relationship with both his wife and son appears to be slowly disintegrating and is incredibly fragile. Sam is autistic and Alex is not dealing with it very well. He seems at a loss with what to do regarding his behaviour, how to handle him in general and even how to communicate with him effectively. This leads to him sleeping at a friend’s house while desperately trying to repair the cracks that have appeared in his life and his marriage.

Luckily for Alex, something comes along, in the form of a computer game called Minecraft that just might change everything. Sam becomes obsessed with the game, and through it, so too does Alex as he learns that sometimes the right kind of communication can be begun by meeting that person on their own level, building slowly from there and simply learning to have fun together. Through Minecraft, Alex and Sam both learn a lot about each other, much more in fact than they ever have done previously. A strong relationship between the two begins to form and they learn to be friends as well as father and son, paving the way for a much happier and content family life in the future.

I don’t know where to start with telling you how beautiful and heart-warming this book actually was. The author was inspired by his own experiences with his son and this really shows in the writing. I think you can tell when an author is drawing from personal circumstances and we get an honest, authentic look into life with a child on the autistic spectrum which for our main character Alex, is both difficult and hugely rewarding. I did want to shake Alex at some points through the novel for decisions he has made but I loved how he developed throughout the story to become a real father, friend and support network for both his son and wife. It’s not often a book brings me to tears – I think I can count about three times in my entire life. Choked up, sad….for sure but actual tears? It’s very rare. Yet A Boy Made Of Blocks had me sobbing in the end, both happiness and sadness combined and it was an utterly magical experience that I won’t forget in a hurry.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

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In 2012 one of KEITH STUART’s two sons was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The ramifications felt huge. But then Keith and both boys started playing videogames together – especially Minecraft. Keith had always played games and, since 1995, has been writing about them, first for specialist magazines like Edge and PC Gamer then, for the last ten years, as games editor for the Guardian. The powerful creative sharing as a family and the blossoming of communication that followed informed his debut novel.

Find Keith on GoodReads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/441866.Keith_Stuart

On Twitter at: @keefstuart

Visit the website at: http://www.boymadeofblocks.com/

A huge thank you again to Little, Brown publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Why not check out all the other stops on the blog tour today? A Boy Made Of Blocks was released in paperback on 5th January 2017 and is available from all good bookshops and as an e-book now.

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The Ballroom – Anna Hope

Published January 10, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Where love is your only escape ….

1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors,
where men and women are kept apart
by high walls and barred windows,
there is a ballroom vast and beautiful.
For one bright evening every week
they come together
and dance.
When John and Ella meet
It is a dance that will change
two lives forever.

Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.

What did I think?:

The Ballroom is the last book in the Richard and Judy Winter Book Club 2016 here in the UK and what a blinder they’ve ended with! This is the author’s second novel after her debut and critically acclaimed novel The Wake (which I still have on my shelves to read and I shall certainly be “bumping,” it on the strength of her second book). Set in the early twentieth century this book is a captivating tale of love and madness that kept me gripped until the very end.

It is the tale primarily of Ella, a young woman who finds herself admitted to an asylum in Yorkshire for (according to her) a slight misdemeanour at work that has led to her being pronounced mad and committed to the asylum for an indefinite period of time or until she appears to recover her senses. John is also in the asylum on the men’s side after having being driven mad with grief after a terrible event in his past. The two first meet properly when the men and women are brought together for a weekly dance, led by one of the medical professionals who insists that the music will have beneficial effects for the poor people that seem to have lost their minds.

Slowly but surely, love develops between Ella and John, a love that seems quite pointless and doomed if they are never to be released from the asylum and never allowed to be together. This is the story of how they cope in the asylum, what day to day life is like for them and also focuses on the other characters in the institution – friends of both Ella and John and on the medical professional and music master, Dr Charles Fuller. He is preparing a paper for the Eugenics Society on the benefits of music for the asylum inhabitants and has a rather sad past/present situation of his own.

The lines between madness and sanity are blurred extraordinarily in this fantastic novel and it makes us question the fragility or strength of our own mind if we were placed in certain situations. I loved Ella and John as characters, both were strong yet somehow very vulnerable and their love story made for delicious reading. I was also deeply intrigued by the character of Charles Fuller, for reasons I dare not disclose for fear of spoilers. At points, it was his story, attitude and actions that made me keep turning the pages, especially at a particularly tense scene involving John near the end…. This is a beautiful piece of writing from a very talented author and I cannot wait to now read her debut, if the brilliance of The Ballroom is anything to go by.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Choker – Elizabeth Woods

Published September 8, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they’re not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her “Choker” after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria.

Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe’s on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara’s life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she’s getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in.

But just as quickly as Cara’s life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she’s at school. You’re supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?

What did I think?:

A huge thank you to my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads for bringing my attention to this book, she knows my bookish tastes very well and when she says I’m going to like something, I know she’s probably right! Beware all who covet this book for the pretty pink cover however, looks can be VERY deceiving and if you think you’re going to get something nice and “fluffy,” well, you’d be wrong. Never fear, this will be a spoiler free review as always if you haven’t read it yet – but prepare yourself for something you may not necessarily be expecting.

Our main character is sixteen year old Cara who is having a bit of a rougher time than your average teenager. Her family have recently moved house and she has been taken away from her best friend Zoe. As the two were pretty much inseparable, this is a big deal for Cara and she is struggling to fit in and make friends at her new school. After an unfortunate incident where she chokes in the school cafeteria, the “mean girl,” (and one of the most popular girls) Alexis makes her life a misery, instantly nicknaming her “Choker,” a name which is quick to travel to the ears of all the rest of the kids at the school, making her a laughing stock. Worse still, Cara has a huge crush on Ethan – who first of all, doesn’t even know she exists and two, happens to be the boyfriend of Alexis. No chance there then!

Until one day, Cara arrives home to see her old friend Zoe sitting on her bed. Zoe has had problems with her stepfather and something has happened which has led her to run away from home. Ecstatic to have her best friend back by her side again, Cara agrees to hide Zoe in her room. Why couldn’t she tell her parents? There is a reason, believe me. With the appearance of Zoe comes huge changes for Cara – a new look, increased confidence, invites to parties and even Ethan starts to show a bit of interest in her. Yet at the same time, terrible and odd things start happening. First, Zoe’s behaviour changes. She becomes desperately possessive of Cara, disappears all the time and won’t tell her where she’s been and begins acting like a completely different person. At the same time, Queen Bitch Alexis and her closest friend are killed and Zoe begins to act very suspiciously…

I thought I knew what this book was going to be all about and at first, I thought I could predict where it was going. I did happen to figure out what was going on about thirty pages from the end but it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of this story at all. I was surprised about just how dark it got in places – urrrrgh the scene with the cat….that’s all I’m saying! Elizabeth Woods certainly knows how to weave a thrilling narrative with a brutally toxic environment that I’m sure many of us can appreciate from our own teenage years. I think YA fans will absolutely love this novel and it’s a strong example of the genre. For anybody who doesn’t enjoy young adult fiction, yes it may not really be your cup of tea but I think it would definitely appeal to the target audience and that’s why I’m rating it as high as I have.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Reasons To Stay Alive – Matt Haig

Published September 3, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

I want life. I want to read it and write it and feel it and live it. I want, for as much of the time as possible in this blink-of-an-eye existence we have, to feel all that can be felt. I hate depression. I am scared of it. Terrified, in fact. But at the same time, it has made me who I am. And if – for me – it is the price of feeling life, it’s a price always worth paying.

Reasons to Stay Alive is about making the most of your time on earth. In the western world the suicide rate is highest amongst men under the age of 35. Matt Haig could have added to that statistic when, aged 24, he found himself staring at a cliff-edge about to jump off. This is the story of why he didn’t, how he recovered and learned to live with anxiety and depression. It’s also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how to live better, love better, read better and feel more.

What did I think?:

I’ve been dreading writing this review for so long now! Not because I disliked this book in any way – in fact I feel the exact opposite and as you will see, have given it the full five stars but because I’m not sure how my review can do justice to such an important piece of writing that Matt Haig has given us. The author has been very open in the past about his struggles with depression and anxiety and this book feels like both a breath of fresh air and a blessed relief for many sufferers (like myself) and even for anyone who knows someone who suffers with depression and/or anxiety (so, that’s probably everyone – right?).

I think this book is especially important for men. I’m sure we’ve all heard the shocking statistics about the number of young men who contemplate or sadly carry out their suicidal thoughts as generally speaking, they find it a lot harder to open up to people and talk about what they’re going through. Matt Haig was in a similar position at the age of twenty-four – that nasty, black dog had got under his skin good and proper and he considered ending his life. This book is about his journey back from the worst times of his life to his current state of mind, where he has come out the other side. It’s brutally honest, touching, emotional and very real and he gives hope to those sufferers that in their blackest days, there is hope and life is worth living.

“You will one day experience joy that matches this pain. You will cry euphoric tears at the Beach Boys, you will stare down at a baby’s face as she lies asleep in your lap, you will make great friends, you will eat delicious foods you haven’t tried yet, you will be able to look at a view from a high place and not assess the likelihood of dying from falling. There are books you haven’t read yet that will enrich you, films you will watch while eating extra-large buckets of popcorn, and you will dance and laugh and have sex and go for runs by the river and have late-night conversations and laugh until it hurts. Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.”

I read this book like one of those nodding dogs you see in the back of cars, every single sentence seemed to resonate with how I was feeling or how I have felt when depression gets its sharp teeth into your mind, skewing how you think about yourself and rattling your whole world and way of being. Yes, it’s horrible. Yes, you feel like you’re never going to be happy again and the crippling emotion of it all takes over your life. The author knows exactly what it’s like and uses his experience and gentle humour to let you know that you are not alone – which is a huge comfort for those going through it and a fantastic insight for anyone who wants to help someone they love who is suffering. I read this hugely poignant book losing count of the number of quotes I wanted to remember forever and it’s certainly a book I’ll return to at those times when things are getting a bit much. If you know what it’s like to be depressed, read this book. If someone you love is depressed, read this book. If you don’t really like non-fiction – it’s not what you think, read this book. It’s relevant for everyone.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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The Space Between: A Memoir Of Mother-Daughter Love At The End Of Life – Virginia A. Simpson

Published July 28, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

As a bereavement care specialist, Dr. Virginia Simpson has devoted her career to counseling individuals and families grappling with illness, death, and grieving. But when her own mother, Ruth, is diagnosed in 1999 with a life-threatening condition, Virginia is caught off guard by the storm of emotions she experiences when she is forced to inhabit the role of caregiver. In a quest to provide her mother with the best care possible, Virginia arranges for Ruth to move in with her and for the next six years, she cares for her, juggling her mother s doctor s appointments, meals, medication schedules, transportation needs, and often cranky moods with her own busy schedule. In The Space Between, Simpson takes readers along for the journey as she struggles to bridge the invisible, often prickly space that sits between so many mothers and daughters, and to give voice to the challenges, emotions, and thoughts many caregivers experience but are too ashamed to admit. Touching and vividly human, The Space Between reminds us all that without accepting the inevitability of death and looking ahead to it with clarity, life cannot be fully lived.

What did I think?:

First of all, many thanks to the author and publishers of this emotional memoir, She Writes Press, for providing me with a free copy in return for an honest review. I’ve got quite a strong relationship with my own mother and when I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I was going to be in for quite a heart-breaking ride. Well, I wasn’t wrong. This is a fantastic piece of non-fiction that explores the author’s own relationship with her mother as she faces chronic illness and the thing most people dread – old age and the inevitability of death peeking round the corner.

Ginni takes most (well actually, ALL) of the responsibility for her mother’s health and well-being on her own shoulders. She has quite a frayed relationship with her older brother Peter after suffering physical and emotional abuse from him when they were younger and indeed, he doesn’t seem to be particularly interested in many of the decisions Ginni has to make. She takes her mother into her own house as she can’t face putting her in a care home although before long, the strain it places on her both physically and mentally becomes too much and also threatens the solidity of the “up and down” relationship that they do have.

What I loved so much about this book was how brutally honest it is and I really feel for the author as it must have been quite a traumatic, although hopefully cathartic experience to write and re-live her personal experiences with her mother. Her mother does love her, that much is clear – but she has a bit of a funny way of showing it sometimes, especially when it comes to her brother Peter who Ginni believes was the “favourite” of the family. It represents such an authentic mother-daughter relationship – the bumps in the road, the rebellions, the arguments and tears but at the end, such a deep love that cannot be taken away or denied.

I already knew before I began this book that I was going to be quite affected by it but I never realised how much until I started reading. It’s very rare that a book makes me sob but with this one, some things just hit a little close to home and I really felt like I could sympathise and identify with Ginni. Even though the author works with those who have become bereaved I don’t think anything can prepare you for the death of a parent and I can only hope that when I have to suffer this terrible experience, I can be half as strong as Ginni was. This is a no holds barred, true and very raw story of the love between parents and their children and I want to thank the author for sharing her life and innermost feelings in such a beautiful way.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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