Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind

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Thank you to Net Galley for the free copy for review. All opinions are my own. 

Mental is an autobiographical look into Jaime Lowe’s experience living with a bipolar diagnosis. Like many stories that deal with mental illness, one of the biggest struggles always seems to be getting the medication regulated (see my post: Imagine Me Gone).

It’s heartbreaking to read how difficult this regulation can be for the patient. I have sympathy for the doctor’s that are trying to help, yet frustrated that we continue to push drugs on the patients. I don’t know what the right answer is because I do believe the drugs help regulate the symptoms; however, there does seem to be a limit to the amount of these drugs that should be prescribed.

Somehow, Lowe was able to get through college and establish her writing career. Her book is an intense, honest, and raw look into her struggle. It was difficult to read at times because i just felt so badly for everything she was going through. However, I was filled with hope that she was able to still experience a successful writing career.

 

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The Power

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It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that makes me feel so dumb. I literally had the hardest time following what the heck was going on with this book. I kept persevering because I figured it would eventually come around, but it never did. I didn’t enjoy this book and I am seriously confused on what I missed because I’ve mostly seen rave reviews about this one on #bookstagram.

The basic premise of the book is interesting to me: women realize they have a secret power that basically flips our patriarchal society upside down. With this power, women no longer fear being harassed by men; in fact, men are now the ones who are scared to walk along the streets at night. Various countries even rise up where women have all the power – men must have a woman guardian, they are stripped of all their rights, and they answer to women for all their needs.

The concept is there and very intriguing to me, but the story just never fully developed for me. Because I found myself continually struggling to follow the story, it was hard for me to get engaged. I felt confused the entire time. I didn’t feel an overwhelming connection to the characters; ironically, I probably felt the most connected to the lone (major) male character, Tunde.

I believe there was so much potential for this storyline, but for me, it just wasn’t well-executed. I love the dystopian genre, so it goes without saying that I was excited for this one. As more people read it, I’m going to keep an eye on the reviews to see if I can find the missing piece for me…and who knows? After a reread, I may feel differently! Even though I’m not giving this a stellar review, I can tell it will be a book that sticks with me – and would provide lots and lots of book club discussion material.

Have you read Alderman’s The Power yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

Refugee

“A calm came over Lito, as though he’d come to some sort of understanding, some decision. “I see it now, Chabela. All of it. The past, the present, the future. All my life, I kept waiting for things to get better. For the promise of mañana. But a funny thing happened while I was waiting for the world to change, Chabela: it didn’t. Because I didn’t change it. I’m not going to make the same mistake twice.”

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Wow! This is a powerful read geared towards upper middle school kids, but it should be required reading for all of humanity. The story follows three children and their families as they seek refuge somewhere outside of their home countries. I wanted to cry as I imagined myself in the same scenarios and how difficult and scary it must be. My mama heart hurts for all the other mama’s out there that are not raising their babies in a safe, secure home. 

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All of the stories are inspired by true events. Somewhere, at some point in time, families are living this. Hopefully, through stories such as this one, empathy and compassion are planted in our hearts. May we do better as we navigate a world that seems to live in perpetual chaos. 

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Thank you to the Diverse Books Club for suggesting this incredible book! I borrowed a copy from the library, but I will be buying a copy for my own personal library so I can introduce it to both of my children. I believe we can learn from the past and that history will repeat itself if we decide to bury our heads in the sand instead of being a voice of reason. 

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May we begin to lead with love – first and foremost. 

Turtles All the Way Down

Let’s not get in a fight or have a break up…let’s respectfully agree to disagree if we have to, but…Turtles All the Way Down? 😔 It just didn’t work for me. I didn’t find the plot, the characters, or the relationships believable in any sort of way. I know I’m in the minority here – and I’m trusting you won’t hold my opinion against me forever – but I’m just not sure John Green’s writing is for me. I felt similar feelings when I read The Fault in Our Stars. I don’t know…I haven’t read other books by him and I’m not overly motivated after having two very similar experiences. 

The storyline was so ridiculously unbelievable that I had a hard time getting past it in order to appreciate the characters. But even they fell flat for me. I mean, I understand that Aza has anxiety and it was interesting to “get inside the head” of a person who struggles with the thoughts she had, but her relationships were unrealistic. It’s just not the way high school kids interact or talk to each other, in my experience. 

While it was refreshing to read a story where the character actually gets along with her mother, there were still so many times where I had a hard time believing a mother would behave the way she did. I can’t say too much because I don’t want to give anything away, but many times it felt like Aza’s mother was more concerned with being a friend than being a mother. 

While I didn’t love the book, I will say there are lots and lots of worthy quotable quotes. Some of his statements are so profound that I found myself having to stop reading entirely so I could mull over what he’d written. I love that, and I can greatly appreciate that about his writing. 

I want to love John Green as much as the rest of you, but I’m thinking this time around, the breakup will be permanent. Even though I may be alone in this opinion, can we still be friends?? 

The Heart’s Invisible Furies 

I saw the hype on #bookstagram and I thought, “Yea, ok. Sounds good. Everybody loved it. I’ll give it a shot.” Then I started to read it and I thought, “Hmm…what am I missing? I mean, it’s ok. But everybody’s throwing around phrases like ‘favorite book of the year’ and ‘the best book ever’ and I’m just not getting it.” But I continued to read because I trust this community and now I’m like, “OMG. I GET IT!! SO FREAKING GOOD! DEFINITELY ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOKS!!” Seriously y’all…I want to climb the highest mountain and scream to the world, “READ THIS BOOK, LIKE YESTERDAY! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??” 

Ok, now that I’ve got that off my chest and I’ve calmed down a bit…you guys, #thisbook! It’s got all the feels and it’s just the most beautiful life story. Cyril Avery is born in post-WWII Ireland. His mother gives him up for adoption when he’s just three days old. He struggles most of his life to find a place to belong – and let’s just say that Ireland and all her politics do not make it easy on him. As a child who realizes early on that he is gay – in a country and a time where that declaration is completely unacceptable – Avery endures many heartbreaking, confusing, and difficult times. He searches for a love and acceptance that many (even still today) take for granted. 

Avery’s transformation into a confident, secure, and happy man is a beautiful journey. He – like all people, really – has hardships. But ultimately, he realizes that those difficult times are where he learned to embrace and accept himself. Towards the end of his life he realizes that he wouldn’t be who he is without them; therefore, he wouldn’t change any of it.

Cyril Avery has earned a place in my heart forever. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about his little world, and I know I will visit it again many times over the years to come.

Always

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I needed a break from heavy reading and this seemed like the perfect fit. It was a quick and easy read (I read it in one day), but the plot was too predicable for me. By the end of the book, everything wrapped up so easily for me and I found it to be very unbelievable. Also, the big mystery that the entire story was based upon wasn’t ever fully revealed, so that left me frustrated. When I saw that this was Sarah Jio’s eighth book, I was disappointed. I feel like an author that’s written that many books should be better at presenting a solid storyline. This is a quick, light, and easy read, so if that’s what you’re looking for this may be the book for you. Had I understood there are some major flaws in the writing and story line, I may have been better prepared to enjoy it for what it is.

Stay With Me

I’m pretty sure everybody already knows that they should stop what they’re doing and read this book right.now. It’s amazing! It gave me all the feels – hope, sadness, grief, anger, confusion, relief, understanding, pain, hurt, indifference – all of them.

I loved how there was a “surface” story that was straightforward and plain, but stewing underneath was the “real” story – an insight into the whys behind the character’s actions, how they felt, why they made the choices they did. It gave the reader a totally different story and instilled a sense of understanding instead of anger which would make it easier to just write the character and their actions off. It instilled empathy and compassion in me. 

The novel reminds us that things are not always as they seem; oftentimes, there’s a deeper reason behind the story everybody else sees. It also reminded me that there are just so many layers to life, and specifically, relationships. It’s hard to ever think we fully and completely understand another person’s inner thoughts and motivations. 

It’s a hard story to read at times, but it’s real, raw, and honest in all the best ways! It will be a favorite of 2017 for sure!

⚠️Trigger warnings: infertility, child loss, infidelity