Tag Archives: Mental Illness

Review of Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof

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About Small Blessings

An inspiring tale of a small-town college professor, a remarkable new woman at the bookshop, and the ten-year old son he never knew he had.

Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier.

Then, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop’s charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he’d fathered a son who is heading Tom’s way on a train. His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness. And it becomes clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not.

A heartwarming story with a charmingly imperfect cast of characters to cheer for, Small Blessings’s wonderfully optimistic heart that reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life has veered irrevocably off track, the track shifts in ways we never can have imagined.

My Review

An absolutely charming book, the characters are unique, a solid glimpse into the issues life presents and the choices made.

The college campus undoubtedly allows for a quaint feeling, people joining together in a tight knit community as faculty reside on campus, they’re coworkers, neighbors, friends. I enjoy a university setting, you always find an array of characters and issues causing interest and intrigue certainly proving true in this case. Agnes was my favorite, a woman with a tremendous amount of strength and sense. The bookstore serves as the cog of interest for all, a equal place for everyone to meet, convene without scrutiny, a true social playground.

The characters are a patchwork bunch, their lives slam into each other as they bumble with individual issues and issues created with their interactions. Each character weaves into the other’s in some form which makes the bunch quite interesting. Lots of maneuvering as the players figure out the ins and outs of life and predicaments delivered, both sad and joyous moments/events explored. Issues feel real and the wrongs and rights of their decision and actions plausible.

Humorous, poignant, a very warm and tender story appealing to most. The writing, potluck of issues make the story a worthwhile investment. Simply lovely. Woodroof impresses with her enchanting debut.

About Martha Woodroof290987

Martha Woodroof was born in the South, went to boarding school and college in New England, ran away to Texas for a while, then fetched up in Virginia. She has written for NPR, npr.org, Marketplace and Weekend America, and for the Virginia Foundation for Humanities Radio Feature Bureau. Her print essays have appeared in such newspapers as the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Small Blessings is her debut novel. She lives with her husband in the Shenandoah Valley. Their closest neighbors are cows.

Published August 12th 2014 by St. Martin’s Press (first published August 1st 2014)

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Review: Don’t Call Me Kit Kat by K.J. Farnham

25082515Don’t Call Me Kit Kat
by K.J. Farnham
Published April 20th 2015 by Createspace

About Don’t Call Me Kit Kat

Junior high is where things really start to happen. Cliques form and break apart. Couples are made and destroyed. And a reputation is solidified that you won’t ever be able to escape. Everything you do and say, and everyone you spend your time with, matters.

Katie Mills knows that. She gets it. That’s why she tried so hard to get in with the cool girls at school. And why she was so devastated when those efforts found her detained for shoplifting and laughed out of cheer squad tryouts.

But Katie has more to worry about than just fitting in. Her parents are divorced and always fighting. Her sister never has time for her. And her friends all seem to be drifting apart. Even worse? The boy she has a crush on is dating the mean girl at school.

Everything is a mess, and Katie doesn’t feel like she has control over any of it. Certainly not over her weight, which has always topped out at slightly pudgier than normal—at least, according to her mother.

So when she happens to catch one of the popular girls throwing up in the bathroom one day, it sparks an idea. A match that quickly engulfs her life in flames.

Is there any going back once she gets started down this path?

And would she even want to if she could?

Book Links:

Amazon

Don’t Call Me Kit Kat Trailer

 My Review

Farnham moved me in several ways, first with her ability to depict a clear picture of the horrors and dangers of an eating disorder, secondly to cover other social issues plaguing teens and thirdly to masterfully come across as a troubled teen loud and clear, her language expressed that of a teen floundering, very well done. Her stellar writing is filled with deep emotion as she holds nothing back in her characters along with their hard-hitting challenges. Dialogue is outstanding.

Katie is a teen drowning in pain. Her troubles soon escalate and she finds herself in a spiraling situation. Her parents unfriendly divorce, a mother lacking sensitivity, peer pressure, low self-esteem, bullying and desperately craving acceptance and attention by peers and family are burdening the shoulders of Katie. As the story progresses you feel Katie’s pain and its excruciating. Luckily she has a wonderful set of friends but her problems cause her to distance herself and she finds herself afloat tying to navigate rough terrain on her own, anguish her undertow.

I completely connected with Katie’s story and voice. This isn’t a happy story however, it’s very realistic in the horrors of bulimia and its ongoing struggle to control. Katie felt real and I loved the ending. Farnham did not go with a HEA, rather she left the ending filled with ambiguity fueling its reality. I found myself considering Katie weeks after I read the book. Farnham creates quite a punch in this mighty read.

A potent story addressing serious issues facing young adults. Great book to read with your young adult leading to an open dialogue on issues often avoided or ignored. Outstanding effort by Farnham. Looking forward to future books from this incredibly gifted writer. Highly recommend.

About K. J. Farnham8496528

K. J. Farnham is a former educator turned author and freelance editor. Born and raised in a suburb of Milwaukee, she holds a bachelor’s degree from UW-Milwaukee and a master’s degree from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Farnham now lives in Western Wisconsin with her husband, three children and three cats. When she is not busy keeping up with her kids, she can be found reading or writing.

Farnham enjoys road trips, beach outings, strength training, running, hiking and acoustic music. She hopes to convince her husband to drive across the United States in an RV someday

Connect with K.J. Farnham: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

Data from the National Eating Disorders Association:

•Bulimia nervosa affects 1-2% of adolescent and young adult women.
•Approximately 80% of bulimia nervosa patients are female.
•People struggling with bulimia nervosa usually appear to be of average body weight.
•Many people struggling with bulimia nervosa recognize that their behaviors are unusual and perhaps dangerous to their health.
•Bulimia nervosa is frequently associated with symptoms of depression and changes in social adjustment.
•Risk of death from suicide or medical complications is markedly increased for eating disorders.

Despite the prevalence of eating disorders, they continue to receive inadequate research funding.
Illness Prevalence NIH Research Funds (2011)
Alzheimer’s Disease 5.1 million $450,000,000
Autism 3.6 million $160,000,000
Schizophrenia 3.4 million $276,000,000
Eating disorders 30 million $28,000,000

Research dollars spent on Alzheimer’s Disease averaged $88 per affected individual in 2011. For Schizophrenia the amount was $81. For Autism $44. For eating disorders the average amount of research dollars per affected individual was just $0.93. (National Institutes of Health, 2011)

To learn more or to make a donation that will go toward prevention programs, rehabilitation and support for those who struggle with eating disorders, please visit http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/.

Spotlight & Giveaway: Don’t Call Me Kit Kat by K.J. Farnham

25082515Don’t Call Me Kit Kat
by K.J. Farnham
Published April 20th 2015 by Createspace
Paperback, 312 pages
ISBN13: 9781500850333

About Don’t Call Me Kit Kat

Junior high is where things really start to happen. Cliques form and break apart. Couples are made and destroyed. And a reputation is solidified that you won’t ever be able to escape. Everything you do and say, and everyone you spend your time with, matters.

Katie Mills knows that. She gets it. That’s why she tried so hard to get in with the cool girls at school. And why she was so devastated when those efforts found her detained for shoplifting and laughed out of cheer squad tryouts.

But Katie has more to worry about than just fitting in. Her parents are divorced and always fighting. Her sister never has time for her. And her friends all seem to be drifting apart. Even worse? The boy she has a crush on is dating the mean girl at school.

Everything is a mess, and Katie doesn’t feel like she has control over any of it. Certainly not over her weight, which has always topped out at slightly pudgier than normal—at least, according to her mother.

So when she happens to catch one of the popular girls throwing up in the bathroom one day, it sparks an idea. A match that quickly engulfs her life in flames.

Is there any going back once she gets started down this path?

And would she even want to if she could?

Book Links:

Amazon

Don’t Call Me Kit Kat Trailer

About K. J. Farnham8496528

K. J. Farnham is a former educator turned author and freelance editor. Born and raised in a suburb of Milwaukee, she holds a bachelor’s degree from UW-Milwaukee and a master’s degree from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Farnham now lives in Western Wisconsin with her husband, three children and three cats. When she is not busy keeping up with her kids, she can be found reading or writing.

Farnham enjoys road trips, beach outings, strength training, running, hiking and acoustic music. She hopes to convince her husband to drive across the United States in an RV someday

Connect with K.J. Farnham: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

Data from the National Eating Disorders Association:

•Bulimia nervosa affects 1-2% of adolescent and young adult women.
•Approximately 80% of bulimia nervosa patients are female.
•People struggling with bulimia nervosa usually appear to be of average body weight.
•Many people struggling with bulimia nervosa recognize that their behaviors are unusual and perhaps dangerous to their health.
•Bulimia nervosa is frequently associated with symptoms of depression and changes in social adjustment.
•Risk of death from suicide or medical complications is markedly increased for eating disorders.

Despite the prevalence of eating disorders, they continue to receive inadequate research funding.
Illness Prevalence NIH Research Funds (2011)
Alzheimer’s Disease 5.1 million $450,000,000
Autism 3.6 million $160,000,000
Schizophrenia 3.4 million $276,000,000
Eating disorders 30 million $28,000,000

Research dollars spent on Alzheimer’s Disease averaged $88 per affected individual in 2011. For Schizophrenia the amount was $81. For Autism $44. For eating disorders the average amount of research dollars per affected individual was just $0.93. (National Institutes of Health, 2011)

To learn more or to make a donation that will go toward prevention programs, rehabilitation and support for those who struggle with eating disorders, please visit http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/.

Giveaway:

Enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Don’t Call Me Kit Kat, please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 10/21/15
ENTRY-FORM

Review & Giveaway: Paperweight by Meg Haston

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Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.

Meg Haston delves into the devastating impact of trauma and loss, while posing the question: Why are some consumed by their illness while others embark on a path toward recovery?

Haston impresses with the fragile topic of recovery. Achieving recovery is an ongoing endeavor taking time, perhaps even a few steps back with every step forward, a sojourn differing for all. Haston describes the struggle one faces in a plausible manner.

Stevie is difficult to warm to at first, until you understand her pain and the many burdens she carries. An off putting, snarky attitude a mask of her anguish. Her story is affecting and you are left wondering what in fact will become of Stevie trapped with all her deep seeded issues. The struggles and demons Stevie battles are all too real. As the walls slowly tumble-down we glimpse Stevie’s true core discovering her heart isn’t black.

Haston deserves praise for depicting the clinical environment, challenges of heavy issues, fellow patients along with staff, anyone dealing with in patient treatment will be able to relate and realize portrayed accuracy.

There is somewhat of a twist revealing itself as well as a fabulous ending – both complimenting the story.

A story of a young girl dealing with abandonment, loss, guilt along with an eating disorder as thoughts of suicide linger. A coming of age story of a girl lost within the confines of her person and world.

As a person formerly suffering from an eating disorder I completely connected with Haston’s story, it more than stuck a cord, sign of a job well done on the authoresses part.

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Paperweight, please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 8/17/15
ENTRY-FORM

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•Hardcover, 304 pages
•Published July 7th 2015 by HarperTeen (first published July 2nd 2015)
•ISBN13: 9780062335746)

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

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“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is the best book I’ve read all year. The mastery of heart ripping is ripe in this. As someone who suffers from Depression it was interesting to read. The author really lets you see both sides of depression so well. On one hand I was on the families side and furious at Elf for being so damn selfish. Then by the next chapter I would be in Elf’s corner yelling” Just let her go already!” For me this book made the topic of depression/suicide impossible to solve, and I kind of like it for that. Sometimes there is no right and wrong, there just is.

Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

P.S- This title is perfection.


Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 15th 2014 by Knopf Canada (first published April 11th 2014)
ISBN13: 9780345808004

Reviewer: Dana
| Goodreads |

Recommendation: 5/5

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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Published August 12th 2014 by Atria Books (first published January 1st 2013)
Hardcover, 400 pages
ISBN13: 9781476702995

Reviewer: Dana
| Goodreads |

Read this book if you think your family is dysfunctional. I guarantee that this book will make your family look positively bland in comparison.I could not put down this obsessive read. It was fascinating to read about a family dealing with the aftermath of a mother with a hording disorder. Like many people, I have watched the popular hoarding reality show “Buried Alive” but I never truly understood how deep the rabbit hole really went for people suffering from this affliction.

When I told my mother about the story she said it sounded like a Jerry Springer episode, and I suppose she has a point. However this novel is so much more than that and I think this is where the cover truly shines. The bird family’s destruction really came about like the slow cracks of an egg. It was just one thing after another until it all fell apart.

I loved all of the characters, even the ones I hated! Even though all of this insanely dramatic stuff was happening I still felt that everyone was painfully real.

This novel broke my heart but I still felt very satisfied with the ending. Even if I was still holding grudges with some of the characters, I felt that the ending was so perfect and healing. I feel infinitely lucky to have been able to receive a galley of this book. Many thanks to Lisa and Atria publishing. I would definitely recommend this for a book club read. 6/5

Etched on Me

Etched on Meimage
Jenn Crowell

On the surface, sixteen-year-old Lesley Holloway is just another bright new student at Hawthorn Hill, a posh all-girls’ prep school north of London. Little do her classmates know that she recently ran away from home, where her father had spent years sexually abusing her. Nor does anyone know that she’s secretly cutting herself as a coping mechanism…until the day she goes too far and ends up in the hospital.

Lesley Holloway a girl dealt a rotten hand in life, suffering the unthinkable – a survivor, a fighter. Abuse took its toll but somehow Lesley dug from deep within and prevailed by fighting her demons. She has come a long way and still struggles but never gives up and keeps on keeping on. Lesley now a young woman facing yet another unbelievable challenge, and once again she fights and struggles all the while never playing the victim.

This story is gripping and emotional. I had to keep reminding myself it’s a fictional story. I kept asking myself, how much injustice can a person be dealt in a lifetime? I wanted to climb through the book and pull Lesley from the pages and erase all her pain and anguish. I wanted to fight for her and show her all the love and support in the world. I wanted to help her find her way as she continued to muster all her strength, courage and fight within. She touches your heart and you can’t help being inspired. You will be this young woman’s cheerleader for life!

Wonderfully written, touching on sensitive subject matters with a character focusing on the present and future as opposed to her heartbreaking past. A girl that has suffered beyond belief coming of age and emerges a victorious woman on many levels. A compelling story, leaving you elated and exhausted.


Published February 4th 2014 by Washington Square Press
336 Pages

ISBN13: 9781476739069

Recommendation: 3/5