Today I begin reading In Case of Emergency by Brian Francis. I am excited to read this novel especially because I met the author on Tuesday. The novel discusses mental health issues and describes a young girl’s coming-of-age story.
“The day I lost my mom, I turned left instead of right. If I had listened to her instructions, if I had turned right, she would still be here.”
Break In Case of Emergency by Brian Francis (2019, Harper Collins Canada)
Already I want to know more – though I will have to wait until I get home this evening before I continue reading!
At the Spring Frenzy Presents event that I attended, I received a copy of Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller. I was curious to read the story told in two points of view. In addition, mental health in teens is an issue that should no longer be taboo and I was pleased to see that a teen novel was exploring the subject.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
A crucial, genre-bending tale, equal parts Ned Vizzini and Patrick Ness, about the life-saving power of friendship.
Solomon and Ash both experienced a traumatic event when they were twelve.
Ash lost all memory of that event when she fell from Solomon’s treehouse. Since then, Solomon has retreated further and further into a world he seems to have created in his own mind. One that insulates him from reality, but crawls with foes and monsters . . . in both animal and human form.
As Solomon slips further into the place he calls Darkside, Ash realizes her only chance to free her best friend from his pain is to recall exactly what happened that day in his backyard and face the truth—together.
I liked the concept behind the story: that a childhood trauma affects a child’s perception on life. Solomon experiences such trauma and loses himself in a fantasy world of his own making. There were moments, however, when I read of his experience in this fantasy world that I was a bit lost in the story. Miller attempts to create a fantasy world but for me, as an avid fantasy reader, it fell a little flat. In addition, at times the link between Solomon’s fantasy world and the reality was too tenuous. Having said that, midway through the story, the connections between the two seemed more believable.
Ash’s storyline was more interesting to me as she strove to help her friend, and to remember the night that she had blanked out in her mind. Like her friend Solomon, she had found a way to erase the event out of her mind – but in different manner. While searching to help her friend Solomon, she finds a way to help her own mind heal.
What kept me reading the story was my curiosity of the trauma – which is indeed something that would cause a mental breakdown in a child. The suggestion of the trauma is revealed in increments until finally Solomon is able to reveal what happened the night Ash lost her memory. Miller resolves the story with finesse and realism – an ending that I certainly appreciate.
Destroy All Monsters is a much needed story about mental health issues. It is a story about friendship – a friendship that survives even a childhood trauma. Miller tells the story through two points of view – both Solomon and Ash – and at times I was unable to make the connection between Solomon’s created world and the reality that Ash described.
Even though I expected much when I began this story, Miller’s novel did fall a little flat for me as he tried too hard to create a fantasy world. What kept me reading was Ash’s story and my desire to know more about the trauma that they had experienced.
The author Lana Grace Riva contacted me to read and review her book Happier Thinking. While catching up on my reviews in the last few days of 2018, I realised that I had not yet shared my thoughts on her work.
Genre: Non-fiction, Self Help
Changing how you think is possible. I wasn’t always so sure that was true until I experienced it myself, but I know now we don’t have to just accept unhappiness. Not always anyway. This book is my collection of tips and suggestions that have helped me achieve happier thinking. It’s sort of a gym for my mind. I’d love to tell you it was easier than the real gym but well… it’s not really. It takes time, effort, and practice but it’s absolutely well worth the rewards.
The book is a short, quick read of 50 pages. Written in the first person, you get the feeling that the author is speaking directly to you. After reading the synopsis, I was hoping for a more meaty read that would go beyond what I have already read. Instead, the work reads like a summary of what has already been published and what I have already seen and thought about.
Even though Happier Thinking was a disappointing read for me personally, I can see the benefit of this book for people who have not read much on this topic. It is a good beginning read for a person working towards being more content and happier with their lives.
There are times in our lives when things seem difficult: it is an effort to continue working towards our goal and we think of how much easier it would be to give up. But we should not. If we have the determination and belief in ourselves, there is nothing that we cannot achieve. The following video shows us that we can transform ourselves if we set our mind to it.
Not only did Arthur lose weight, but he learned to walk again unassisted. He is truly an inspiration to us; and a reminder that if we do not give up, we can achieve great things.
She felt angry inside: emotions churning and fighting to get out. Throwing books across the room, pounding on the bed as she lay sobbing on it, did not extinguish the pain and the anguish. It was not supposed to be like this! She had to get out. The air felt stifling and the desire to escape was too great. The weather warnings on the news were forgotten as she threw open the door and escaped, trying to run faster than the memories that swirled in her head.
She ran. Feeling the wind drying the tears running down her face. She ran. The pounding of her feet on the road seeming to soothe her soul. On and on she went, her practice for marathons helping her run without stopping. The thoughts in her mind came thick and fast. It was not supposed be like this. I trusted them. Five years of my life, wasted! What am I going to do? Round and round. No answers, no responses.
Eventually she stopped, winded. No answers had come to her mind but she felt calmer, more at peace. The wind had picked up, and rain had begun to pelt against her body. The wind invigorated her; and took her away from the anguish in her mind. In the distance she saw the storm heading her way. Sitting down on the road, she watched it approaching. Her hair whipping around her face, she felt a sense of peace invade her. This was it, let nature give her the solution.
Finally, some time alone. I had been craving this respite ever since I had heard the news. Normally I enjoyed the camaraderie of my neighbours, the enthusiasm of my children, the incessant chit-chat of my wife. But today I wished for peace, for the silence of my den, so that I could think things through; so that I could acknowledge and accept the news that I had heard today.
My head in my hands, I remembered the words of my doctor; the words I had never believed I would hear. “The tests are positive for prostate cancer.” I know he continued with other words; but those are the only ones I recall. “I have cancer. I can die.” These thoughts whirled in my head as I sat mute in the doctor’s rooms. He got up and I followed, without thought, to the receptionist’s desk. I walked out the offices with an appointment card in my hand.
How to tell my wife? My wife who had continuously reminded me to go for the yearly check-up: a check-up I had avoided for years. My wife who berated me for not eating the vegetables she had prepared. My wife who constantly exhorted me to take up some form of exercise. And my children? My son, who was adopting the lifestyle I had perfected. My daughter, who seemed so distant from me since she had begun high school. This was news I dreaded telling. But tell it I must.
The door opens gently and the slice of light shines on my face. “Are you alight honey?” I shake my head gently. There is no better time than now. “Tracey, come sit down with me. There is something I need to tell you.”
How would you break the news of cancer to your loved ones?
(This post was written to help raise awareness of prostrate cancer and men’s health. The Bloggers for Mowember movement was initiated by A Clown on Fire. Join the movement by writing a post to highlight this important topic.)