February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Life Inside My Mind by Jessica Burkhart | SLJ Review

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redstarBURKHART, Jessica, ed. Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles.320p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481494649.

Gr 9 Up –In this much-needed, enlightening book, 31 young adult authors write candidly about mental health crises, either their own or that of someone very close to them. Ranging from humorous to heartbreaking to hopeful, each story has a uniquely individual approach to the set of circumstances that the writer is dealing with. Many authors address readers in the second person, inviting them to imagine what it’s like to live a day inside their heads. The symptoms of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and addiction are frequently discussed. Readers will learn of the many different ways these conditions can be present and in which they often work together. Despite the intense emotional content, teens will warm to the authenticity apparent in every voice. Many, if not most of the essays offer a list of the techniques and treatments that have been successful in handling symptoms, including medication, therapy, exercise, and yoga. The difficulty in recognizing mental health issues, as well as the unfortunate stigma associated with asking for help, is frequently acknowledged and may help teen and adult readers work toward achieving a more open dialogue. Perhaps most importantly, the collection’s overarching sentiment points toward acceptance and the idea that treatment is a journey. As contributor Tara Kelly writes: “If anxiety gets the better of me again, that’s okay. I give myself permission to fall down and get back up.” VERDICT A first purchase for all young adult collections.–Kristy Pasquariello, Wellesley Free Library, MA

This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2018 issue.

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