Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Rarely do I read a book that talks about mental illness in a way that’s both accurate and relatable. Am I Normal Yet? is such a book.

It’s about a girl with OCD. Her name is Evie and she just wants to be normal, whatever that means. She’s been working towards it with her therapist and making good progress since being discharged from hospital, where she’d stayed for a while due to her mental health problems.  Read more

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

I reviewed The Dry by Jane Harper a while ago, and since I’d liked it, the publisher sent me an advance copy of Force of Nature too, which will be coming out soon.

The Dry was Harper’s debut novel, and it’s often the case with debuts that the author hasn’t quite found their voice yet, or finds it towards the end of the book. I liked The Dry, but it wasn’t one I recommended to anyone in 2017. It was a good solid novel, but nothing more than that.

Force of Nature, on the other hand, is a different story. It’s one of those books that truly defines the term ‘page-turner’.

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

A house burns to the ground while the family who live in it stand outside and watch. All bar two, that is: the absentees are the father, who is away at work, and the youngest daughter Izzy. Everyone knows it was Izzy who burned the house down, because that’s just like her: ever a wild child, impossible to control, Izzy has been the family’s unpredictable rebel practically since the day she was born.

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Grief Is The Thing With Feathers by Max Porter

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

~ Emily Dickinson

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How Not To Be A Boy by Robert Webb

At the moment I’m writing a novel. The protagonist is a teenage boy. His name is Anthony and he’s dealing with a lot of things in his life, one of which is the underlying current of societal expectations of masculinity. This isn’t exactly a huge theme in the book, but I think it’s probably an important part of any boy’s upbringing, so I want to get it right. I decided therefore to read some things about what it’s like to grow up male.

I am not, and nor have I ever been, male. However I have always empathised with expectations of masculinity. I’ve been the breadwinner in every household I’ve lived in since a young age, and I’ve been surrounded by people and situations that made showing any kind of emotion discouraged. Growing up, I felt pressured to swallow whatever I might have been feeling and essentially ‘man up and get on with it.’ Despite not knowing what it’s like to be a boy, therefore, I have perhaps an above-average level of empathy for the challenges brought on by society’s expectations of masculinity.

Enter Webb’s autobiography.

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This Week I Have Mostly Been Asleep

A few weeks ago I pushed myself too hard and had to spend a lot of time in bed. I’d neeaaarrllyyyy recovered from that by last weekend, when I had to do something that involved a huge amount of energy. Unfortunately it was genuinely necessary and there was no way I could get out of it. I knew it would put me at a deficit, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I did it anyway, and then I crashed again.

On Tuesday afternoon, with a little encouragement (read: direct order) from a medical professional, I got into bed. I thought “I’ll just lie here for a bit…” and then I fell asleep.

Which pretty much sums up the rest of the week as well. I slept a lot, I barely worked, I read quite a few books, and I watched some stuff on Netflix.

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