This book was lent to me by a friend and I expected it to be the usual light-hearted, funny teenage fiction that I normally enjoy. Although it was all of those things this book was so much deeper. The meaning behind it is beautiful and so important. This is the second book, in my entire life, to ever make me cry (and I actually cried at the authors note at the end).
For some reason, throughout reading this book I wrote down quotes I liked from it. Once I reached the end I was so glad I took note because the message of this book needs to be shared with everyone. The quotes I picked out:
“I’ve learned, it is that you need to make the most of it, it mattered enough for you not to jump”
This references life and that we need to get the best out of it and to see that life is worth living. Suicide is never the answer.
“None of us knows how long we have, maybe another month, maybe another fifty years – I like living as if I only have two days”
Similar to above, the message behind this quote is that you should not take life for granted.
“Surrounded by people but alone. They are talking to me and around me, but I can’t hear them”
I feel like this is a very good description of what it is like to suffer from a mental illness. At times I felt so alone even though I never physically was.
“The future is uncertain but that can be a good thing”
I like this quote because it demonstrates how you should never be worried or anxious as to what will happen in the future. Live in the now rather than focusing on what is to come.
“Labels like ‘bipolar’ say this is why you are the way you are. This is who you are. They explain people away as illnesses.”
A very strong theme of the book was the stigma around mental illness. Unfortunately, the labels do bring with a sense of wariness, simply because people do not understand enough about mental illness. Always remember: the labels do not define you, you are not your mental illness.
“A string of thoughts runs through my head like a song I can’t get rid of, over and over in the same order: I am broken. I am a fraud. I am impossible to love. “
This highlights exactly how it feels when you are in a dark place.
“I want to get away from the stigma they all clearly feel just because they have an illness of the mind as opposed to, say, an illness of the lungs or blood.”
Once again, mental illness carries around a stigma. This is completely wrong as, clearly demonstrated in this quote, mental illness is EXACTLY the same as any other illness. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it is not real.
“I’m not a compilation of symptoms. Not a casualty of shitty parents and an even shittier chemical makeup. Not an illness. Not something to be rescued. I am a person.”
This is a nice way of showing that your mental illness does not define you in any way. Be yourself.
“I’m empty, as if whatever makes me feel and hurt and laugh and love has been surgically removed, leaving me hollowed out like a shell.”
This again demonstrates how it feels in dark times.
This book aimed to highlight the issues surrounding mental illness and suicide. At the end Jennifer Niven explained how dying from suicide is no different from dying from cancer. Both are caused by tragic, awful illnesses that are as real as each other and should be treated with the same respect. I would highly recommend reading this book as the ending is beautiful and really poignant.
Please do not read this if you are currently suffering from any mental illness as some areas may effect you badly but perhaps ask your family and friends to read it instead as it may give them insight into what you are going through and to understand.
Favourite Character: Theodore Finch