REVIEW: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

REVIEW: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

 

It has been a while since I posted as I took last week off to get back on track. October has been a hectic and stressful month and I haven’t been able to dedicate the time needed to keep on top of my posts.

In the last few weeks, blogging started to feel like a chore which is the last thing I want so I thought taking a week without the pressure might help and it definitely has. I have read lots of amazing books recently that I’m still yet to review so I’m excited to start posting again and what better way to start than with The Cruel Prince by Holly Black!

This is one of the many books I have purchased based on recommendations and reviews I’ve read on various blogs. With all the hype surrounding it and a cover as pretty as this, how could I resist?

Side note: I’m introducing a new section to my reviews from now which is going to be some bullet points at the end of each review of things I liked/didn’t like. This is just because as much as I would love to write long and detailed reviews for every book I read, I’m struggling to find the time, so this should help stick to my schedule but still include everything I want to say about a book. I’m not sure if I’ll keep doing this but I’m going to give it a go!

GoodReads Synopsis:

“Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.”

 

My Rating:

★★★★☆

My Thoughts:

Fantasy will always be one of my favourite genres because of how diverse and creative it is. This is not the first story I’ve read about Faeries and it won’t be the last and yet the world Black has created feels so unique.  I love that authors can take an initial well-known concept such as magical creatures and create a whole new and interesting world for their reader to escape into and I would definitely love to experience the High Court of Faerie in real life after reading this book!

In case you haven’t already gathered, I really enjoyed this book! It’s a brilliant example of a book that uses the strong-female lead trope in the right way. Jude was such a refreshing character. As a human living in faerie, she was at the bottom of the ladder, vulnerable and weak. She has limited options and yet, she uses her intellect to fight her way into a position of power. However, I think the main reason I liked Jude was that she was more of an anti-hero than a saviour. Even though we know what she did was right, we also know her actions were morally questionable at times which made her so much more dimensional and interesting.

Carden was also a brilliant character. He is awful with seemingly no redeeming qualities and whilst part of me wanted him to stay this way, I knew that eventually we would have some reveal that would explain why he behaved the way he did. Black slowly unveiled Carden’s true character and private life to the reader and Jude, making us realise that the prince doesn’t have it quite as good as Jude believes. I know that YA fiction seems to love the ‘bully has a difficult home life’ trope with authors using it flippantly in near enough every coming of age story they write but In The Cruel Prince, the reveal of Carden’s true self completely changes the trajectory of this story. I honestly felt sorry for him at the end when Jude double-crossed him. As much as I enjoyed his involvement in the story, I secretly wanted him to just escape to his own castle far away and not have to deal with any of the Faerie Court’s politics.

The only thing I thought was unnecessary but completely saw coming was Carden and Jude’s kiss. The story would still have worked and made logical sense without adding in the potential romance. Once Carden’s personal life was revealed, we had enough justification for his treatment of Jude without needed the ‘he hates her because he secretly is attracted to her which repulses him’ plot line. That being said, there was no part of me that didn’t expect them to be romantically linked at some point of the book. I do think it’s great that Black didn’t make this the focal point of the book, but it did feel like everything was leading to it which was a bit disappointing. I hope in the next book this takes a back seat to Jude being bad-ass but I’ll have to wait and see!

 

Three things I loved:

  • I found it interesting how Black explored/used the theme of power and how quickly this shifted between characters.
  • As horrifying as it was, I did enjoy the part where the new king was going to be crowned as it reminded me of an episode of Game of Thrones (if you’ve read it then I’m sure you know which episode I’m thinking of – the Red Wedding!)
  • The descriptions of the parties, the food, and the outfits. I felt like I was immersed in their world which is what every good fantasy book should do!

 

Thanks for reading! Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!  

REVIEW: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

REVIEW: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Hello, lovelies!

I hope you’re all having a lovely week so far. This week I’m reviewing Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow.

I just want to make it clear before you read any further, that this review contains references to self-harm, suicide, and mental illness which may be triggering to some readers.

GoodReads Synopsis:

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

 

My Thoughts:

Don’t let the pretty cover fool you as Girl in Pieces is far from a light-hearted YA read. It is a detailed fictional account of struggling with a mental illness, self-harm and the road to recovery.

Mental illness has become a common trope across YA, arguably overtaking the recently neglected and controversial love triangle trope. This is both a blessing and a curse as on the one hand, mental illness is getting the representation in literature that it needs but on the other hand there are times when it is clear that an author is only using mental illness as a secondary plot devise, with no intention or desire to fully explore the subject matter.

Often, we read to know that we are not alone in what we feel which is why it is so important that authors take the time to consider their reader and the message they want to send before deciding to include such a sensitive yet critical subject.

Girl in Pieces is one of the best novels I have ever read that deals with the topic of mental illness. It isn’t a plot device that takes a back seat to romance or teen drama. It is woven into every chapter, page, and sentence of this novel so thoughtfully and carefully. It is the very heart of this novel, providing readers with the honest and raw representation that so desperately needs to be seen in literature.

I won’t lie, it was a difficult read. It was upsetting, heart-breaking but it really resonated with me.

The novel follows Charlie, a young girl recovering from a suicide attempt who is just trying to navigate this often challenging world, with the weight of her past still hanging on her shoulders. When we meet Charlie, she is in a rehab/psychiatric ward following her suicide attempt. She is silent, bandaged up and broken. Surrounded by other young girls all suffering from the same affliction, Charlie begins to heal, begins talking again and tries to face up to her past.

 

“Everyone has that moment I think, the moment when something so momentous happens that it rips your very being into small pieces. And then you have to stop. For a long time, you gather your pieces. And it takes such a very long time, not to fit them back together, but to assemble them in a new way, not necessarily a better way. More, a way you can live with until you know for certain that this piece should go there, and that one there.”

 

All of the girls Charlie is surrounded by are different. They are each in their own way, in pieces. Glasgow slowly develops each of their characters to highlight that there is no one way that mental illness affects people. For Charlie, she cuts herself away with shards of broken glass, for Blue, she sticks needles in her body to get away from the pain and for Isis there is fire leaving circular scars across her body. They all feel their pain in their own way just as they all must recover in their own way.

For Charlie, recovery is a rollercoaster of ups and downs. When she leaves the safety net of the rehab/psychiatric ward, she finds herself under the blazing sun in Tucson and soon begins to try and get her life back on track. She finds a job, a place to live and tries to begin to heal but her past is always close behind her. It is here that she meets Riley West, an ex-musician, alcoholic and a drug user battling his own demons. It is at this point that Glasgow could easily have taken this down the root that so many other authors do (girl is struggling, boy is struggling, girl meets boy, they fix each other and drive off into the sunset) but she doesn’t. She makes it clear that Riley is not the answer to all of Charlie’s problem, in fact, he becomes part of the cause.

Glasgow’s deeply emotional and at times witty writing style complimented the story perfectly. There was just the right amount of dark humour coupled with beautifully written philosophical observations for this story to grip me completely. I couldn’t put this book down because I needed to know what happened to Charlie and whether she was okay. I would love to tell you that this book has a happy ending, but it is more realistic that is doesn’t. It does, however, offer the reader a hopeful ending. Charlie is still dealing with her mental health problems, fighting off the urge to turn away from the world and to self-harm, but she is trying.

So, whilst this is a powerful yet painful read, it is also a hopeful one. For anyone out there struggling with mental health issues, this story may make you feel less alone and more understood.

 

Thanks for reading! I know this has been a particularly long and serious review but I felt I had to do this book justice. This book deals with a lot of sensitive subjects that may be harmful to some readers so do bear this in mind before picking it up. If you’ve read this book then let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Non-Fiction Books I Want to Read

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Non-Fiction Books I Want to Read

Hello, lovelies!

Welcome to another Top 10 Tuesday! It’s been a while since I’ve taken part as the past few weeks I’ve been doing Top 5 Tuesdays but I thought I’d switch it up a bit.

If you’re not familiar with Top 10 Tuesday, it’s hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl and features a different book related topic each week. This week weeks topic is the ‘Top 10 books by my favourite authors that I still haven’t read’.

I don’t have that many favourite authors as I read so many different books and genres so some of these are just books by authors whose other books I have enjoyed.

If you’re also taking part in this weeks Top 10 Tuesday or if you’ve done a similar post in the past then please leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll check it out.

 

  1. Us Against You by Frederik Backman

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  1. Britt Marie Was Here by Frederick Backman

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  1. Every Day by David Leviathan

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  1. Two Boys Kissing by David Leviathan

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  1. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

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  1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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  1. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin

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  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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  1. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

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  1. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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Thanks for reading! If you’ve read any of these books or have any books by a favourite author that you’re yet to read then let me know in the comments below!

T5T: Top 5 Books That Made Me Laugh

T5T: Top 5 Books That Made Me Laugh

Hello lovelies!

Welcome back to another Top 5 Tuesdays. You might have noticed that I’ve been switching between Top 5 Tuesdays and Top 10 Tuesdays for the past few weeks and this is because they both have some amazing topics and unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to do two posts every week on a Tuesday so I’ll have to stick with alternating!

If you aren’t familiar with Top 5 Tuesday, it is a group here on WordPress now currently run by Shanah over at BionicBookWorm, where each week you are given a topic and you talk about 5 books that fit that category.

This week’s topic is the Top 5 Books That Made Me Laugh. If you are also participating in Top 5 Tuesdays this week or you have previously done a post on a really funny book then please leave your link in the comments and I will check out your post!

  1. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

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I would just like to point out that this list could easily have just been all of the books from this series as they all made me laugh like a loon on loon tablets. Georgia Nicholson and the rest of the Ace Gang are some of my favourite characters ever. I read these books over and over again when I was growing up and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick them up even now.

  1. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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I feel like the only justification I need for having The Rosie Project in this list is the lovable Don Tillman. The end.

  1. The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon

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When I first read this book I had no idea that it was a memoir as I just picked it up off my mum’s bookshelf and started reading. It was a hilarious, witty and completely outrageous and led me to become a big fan of Bryony and a frequent listener to her podcast which I’d also recommend listening to (she interviews Prince Harry in one of them!)

  1. Boy Meets Boy by David Leviathan

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This book was a wild ride from start to finish. Everything from the characters to the plot was just so over the top and perfect. This book would also make a brilliant film *hint* Netflix *hint*.

  1. Starter for 10 by David Nicholls

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I vividly remember laughing so hard I cried at parts of this book and then again when I watched the film. It is hilarious, brilliant and completely daft. (For any non-brits who don’t know what I mean by daft, its sort of a lovable way of saying silly or ridiculous).

Thanks for reading! What are some of your favourite books that made you laugh? Let me know in the comments below!

REVIEW: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

REVIEW: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Hi lovelies!

Today’s review is on The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I have wanted to read this for so long and it was so worth the wait!

 

Good Reads Synopsis:

“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.”

 

My Thoughts:

With every book that has such a huge following and buzz around it, there is always that doubt and worry that you won’t enjoy it. I think honest reviews are important, but I don’t like telling people I didn’t enjoy a book, especially one that so many people love.

Luckily for me, this book lives up to the hype. I would even go as far to say it surpasses the hype and I really don’t feel like I have the words to do this book justice. The Hate U Give is hands down, one of the best books I’ve read this year and potentially one of the best books I’ve read ever.

Watching Starr trying to figure out what she was going through, what she felt and how she would react to the situation was so powerful. The characters and the storyline were so well crafted and developed that the book became one of those unique fiction novels that is so real that it could be a non-fiction autobiography.

Whilst I was reading THUG, I was scrolling down my Facebook one evening and came across a news video of a police shooting of an unarmed black man in America. In the video, the family were making an emotional plea for justice and everyone stood around in T-shirts with the young man’s face and name on it. I had just read the part in THUG where Khalil’s friends and family show up to his funeral in t-shirts just like the ones on the video and just like that and it hit me how this fictional story is actually so many people’s reality.

I think that’s where this book stands out for me. It is a difficult read at times because of how close to reality it is. Fiction for many people is a way to make sense of the world and emotions both in writing and reading. It allows you to explore different scenarios and even create a world that you’d like to see but Thomas doesn’t give her readers this. There is no happy ending or justice for Khalil because that is unrealistic. On any given day you could scroll down your twitter feed and see some kind of news story or post about police brutality against black people in America. There is the same uproar every time and there are hundreds of tweets and posts calling for justice, but it just never comes. Those responsible are never held accountable and the cycle continues. I think it was so necessary and brave for Thomas to stick to reality with her ending. Obviously as a reader I wanted a different verdict and I wanted to believe that justice can be found, even if it is in a fictional world but I recognise the importance of the verdict and the lack of that resolution.

I also want to include some of my favourite quotes which I don’t normally do in my reviews but I’m making an exception for THUG! These are just a few quotes that stuck with me:

 

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

 

“Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you go on even though you’re scared.”

 

“Fairy tale? No. But I’m not giving up on a better ending.”

 

THUG is one of those reads that will stay with me forever. I’m so glad I finally picked this up and I can’t wait for the film to be released!

 

Thanks for reading! Have you read THUG? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 LGBTQ Books

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 LGBTQ Books

Hello, lovelies!

Welcome back to another Top 5 Tuesday! If you aren’t familiar with Top 5 Tuesday, it is a group here on WordPress now currently run by Shanah over at BionicBookWorm, where each week you are given a topic and you talk about 5 books that fit that category.

This week’s topic is Top 5 LGBTQ Books but I have decided to slightly change this and instead, this will be a post about the top 5 LGBTQ books that I really want to read!  I have so many LGBTQ books on my TBR that I still haven’t gotten around to reading so I am hoping that this post will inspire me to pick some of these up.

If you are also participating in Top 5 Tuesdays this week or you have previously done a post on a great LGBTQ book, then please leave your link in the comments and I will check out your post!

Let’s get started…

 

  1. Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green

 

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“Poor Noah Grimes! His father disappeared years ago, his mother’s Beyonce tribute act is an unacceptable embarrassment, and his beloved gran is no longer herself. He only has one friend, Harry, and school is…Well, it’s pure HELL. Why can’t Noah be normal, like everyone else at school? Maybe if he struck up a romantic relationship with someone – maybe Sophie, who is perfect and lovely – he’d be seen in a different light? But Noah’s plans are derailed when Harry kisses him at a party. That’s when things go from bad to utter chaos.”

 

  1. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

 

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“When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship–one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self–even if she’s not exactly sure who that is.”

 

  1. They Both Die at The End by Adam Silvera

 

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“On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.”

 

  1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

 

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“Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.”

 

 

  1. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

 

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“Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.”

 

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these? What are some of you’re favourite LGBTQ reads? Let me know in the comments below!

REVIEW: All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

REVIEW: All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

WARNING: This review contains spoilers and references to suicide and mental illness

Hello, lovelies!

It’s Sunday and that means its review day! Today’s review is on All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (currently being made into a film starring Justice Smith and Elle Fanning!) I actually read this book a few months ago but never got around to posting my review but better late than never! Unfortunately, this isn’t going to be the most cheery of reviews as this book deals with some serious topics. If you didn’t notice the warning above, this review will contain references to suicide and mental illness so please bare this in mind before reading.

 

Synopsis:

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.

 

Thoughts:

I have wanted to read this book for so long and after constantly picking it up and putting it down in every bookshop I went in, I finally purchased it mid supermarket shop in Asda of all places. I started reading it as soon as I got home, and I couldn’t put it down. I did want to do this review without spoilers, but I couldn’t find a way to do this book justice without mentioning specifics.

Jennifer Niven sums up All the Bright Places best with the line included on the front cover of the book. It is ‘the story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die’. It is an opposites-attract love story that paves the way for important conversation about mental health and its effects, specifically in young people.

I really loved the dual narrative Niven used throughout the book. I’ve always loved this approach to writing as I think it adds something to the book to hear the story from different characters perspectives. It was particularly effective in this book as it allowed us to see how mental illness affects people in different ways. Finch and Violet are both struggling with mental health issues and they both find themselves on top of the school’s bell tower contemplating their lives. This event changes both of their lives but not always for the better.

In Violet’s narrative, we see her mental health slowly start to improve. She has Finch to talk to, someone to listen and to care and understand which is essential in her making it out of that dark place. Finch on the other hand still seems to sink further and further into himself and his illness because he is unable to talk about it which ultimately results in his tragic suicide. The dual narrative allows the reader to actually feel Finch’s absence through the silencing of his voice after he takes his own life, we only hear Violet’s voice and this leaves a powerful impression on the reader.

I also liked the way that Niven used a lot of common tropes that are often found in YA fiction but in an extremely clever way that allowed her to comment on the effects of mental illness. The popular girl falls for an unpopular boy is a well known and arguably tired plot line that is so frequently used that it had me rolling my eyes when I first started reading but I was definitely too quick to judge. Niven doesn’t use this to sell the love story, she’s using it to show how anyone can be affected by mental illness. Violet is loved by everyone and Finch is the outcast, yet both are struggling.

There is also the trope of the ‘mean girl’ Amanda that Niven powerfully turns on its head when Finch goes to a suicide support group after attempting to take his life and sees Amanda there. I loved this for 2 reasons, the first being it shows that everyone has their own cross to bare and the second being that it shows the other side of mental illness. Amanda has survived. She struggled like Finch and Violet and she has made it through like Violet does. This was really important for me in the book, I think it definitely needed that hope and light at the end of the tunnel.

“The thing I realise is, that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.” 

I think the best thing that this book does overall is not to show suicide as a selfish or cowardly thing to do. Niven really shows how much Finch is struggling. She writes about it so powerfully that you can understand the reason why he wanted to take his own life. There is little done to help Finch by the adults around him including those at school. He doesn’t get the help and the support that he desperately needs and so his illness becomes too much for him to deal with which is sadly what happens to a lot of people who take their own lives. There is just not the resources and support to help people, especially young people who are often disregarded as being hormonal or just moody. This is where this book really resonated with me.

I think it’s extremely important that so many YA authors are tackling the issue of mental health in their novels. In the UK, approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year with statistics suggesting that 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24*. The more this is recognised, and the more action is taken to provide the resources and support that is so desperately needed for people of all ages and genders, the more that people like Finch won’t think that suicide is their only way out of their illness.

 

Thanks for reading! Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!

 

If you have been affected by anything I have mentioned in my review, then please check out the following links for support: 

https://www.mind.org.uk/

https://www.samaritans.org/

 

 

*https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#.W3lov-hKjIU

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-children-and-young-people