Tag Archives: mental health

Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella

27823777I haven’t specifically reviewed any Sophie Kinsella books on this blog before (although I’ve read a lot of them), so you might not have realised that I really enjoy her books. She’s written lots of really funny fiction about women getting into incredibly awkward and also hilarious situations, but in a way that’s both true to life and terribly endearing. Everything I’ve read of Sophie Kinsella’s has been verging on the ridiculous, but in a way that makes me accept it, as she writes with such humour and warmth that her books leave me feeling really warm and fuzzy inside.

Finding Audrey is her first foray into YA fiction, where previously she’s written adult books. I picked it up a few weeks ago, because I wanted to see if her humour translates into YA books. Good news! It totally does!

Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella

From the bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a story of humour, heart and heartache. Finding Audrey is Sophie Kinsella’s first novel for teens, sure to appeal to her legions of adult and young adult fans all over the world.

Audrey can’t leave the house. she can’t even take off her dark glasses inside the house.

Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start. And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she’d thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable.

Be prepared to laugh, dream and hope with Audrey as she learns that even when you feel like you have lost yourself, love can still find you . . .

I was a little wary about this one. I wasn’t sure if Kinsella’s humour would transfer to YA, or else I was worried that it would tackle a relatively serious subject – Audrey’s anxiety – with too much levity. I wasn’t sure that it would be able to strike a balance between serious and light-hearted, and would take the shine off my normal enjoyment of Kinsella’s books.

I was wrong to worry, though. Finding Audrey was, for me, perfectly pitched, that it dealt with Audrey and her struggles with enough humour to keep it light-hearted, and enough gravitas to stop it seeming frivolous. Audrey’s mother, in particular, was a Daily Mail-reading panic-stricken overthinker who made me laugh out loud several times.

The format of the book was interesting – the chapters were very short, and interspersed with screenplay excerpts. Audrey’s gradual development over the course of the book as she prepared to start school again was nicely documented through the development of her film as well.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Audrey as a main character was so easy to relate to, and her budding relationship with Linus was filled with all the bittersweet feelings of first teenage love. Not too serious but not saccharine sweet, Finding Audrey was a winner for me.

Four Stars
****

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All The Bright Places – not a mood-booster

23357458So I learned a life lesson from All The Bright Places the other day. When you are stressed out and miserable, and all you want to do is get home and curl up with a good book, it is not a good idea to read the end of this book on a crowded tube home, when you have no tissues. It is a sob-fest. No other explanation needed.

And in case you were wondering, no it didn’t make me feel better. It just made my nose run for the entire 60-minute commute. It turns out I had no tissues. I was not prepared for this book.

All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

The cover of the copy I have says that this is the next Fault in Our Stars. Now, I didn’t really love The Fault in Our Stars (although I did sob my eyes out at it), so I don’t think that would be the greatest accolade for me. But it did give me something of a heads up about what direction this book might take.

So this is a really lovely book, in general. It’s about Violet and Finch, both of whom are struggling when they meet on the ledge of the bell-tower at school. Why would a school have a bell-tower? I don’t know. It’s never really explained. Violet has recently lost her sister, and is struggling to cope. Finch can’t stop thinking of ways to die, and is struggling to cope. But between the two of them, and a shared Geography project, they start to go about finding a way to live, and a way to stay in the present.

This book is really quite beautiful. It’s about falling in love, about struggling as a teenager, about coping with loss, about finding someone you can be yourself with, and about accepting people the way they are. It’s about finding a way to move forward and a way to connect with people even in the face of how hard life can be. It’s full of beautiful imagery and two messed-up, sad, lonely people who find a way to make each others’ worlds a little bit brighter.

I really did enjoy this book. I don’t recommend reading it in public places, though. And I did have one major complaint. The last thirty or forty pages of the book were a sampler of Jennifer Niven’s next book – Holding up the Universe. I’ve actually already read that, so I was pretty disappointed, as I thought there was still a fair chunk of story left to go. I wish books which have sample chapters at the end would make that clear from the beginning, so that I wouldn’t be left wanting more, just from the thickness of the pages I have left.

Still though – a lovely book, with lots of really lovely moments in it about love, life, and struggling, and how to find one small good thing to keep going.

Four Stars
****

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WSPD

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.

I know it seems trite, if you’re struggling, to hear platitudes like ‘Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem’ and ‘talking is a sign of strength, not weakness’.

I’ve been there. I’ve hated the people spouting those phrases. I’ve contemplated, but never attempted, that final act.

But these phrases are true. Suicide is permanent, irreversible and irrevocably damaging.

Three thousand people die by suicide every day.

For every one completed suicide, there may be 20 or more attempts. Do you know how often that is?

That’s forty attempts per minute and a death every half a minute.

84% of suicides in Ireland two years ago were males.

Talk to someone about it.

Talk to anyone about it. Talk to your dog, to your cat, to a counsellor, to a friend, a professional, a fish, anybody.

Don’t keep it bottled up inside. There’s always help out there, you are never alone.

No man is an island, and there is never a reason to let go of something so precious.

Feeling suicidal is not your fault.

Looking for help is not weakness.

Talking is so, so important.

——————————————————————–
If you are feeling suicidal, depressed, or down, or just want to talk, please reach out. Talk to a friend, a family member, a counsellor, a doctor, a professional. Talk to someone.
Samaritans: http://samaritans.org, jo@samaritans.org
Dublin Samaritans: http://dublinsamaritans.ie, 01 872 7700
Pieta House: http://pieta.ie, mary@pieta.ie, 01 601 0000
Please Talk: http://pleasetalk.ie
Reach Out: http://ie.reachout.com

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