I really liked this book. It was a well-paced, quick read. It definitely resonated with me, because I was a teenager who struggled with suicidal ideat...moreI really liked this book. It was a well-paced, quick read. It definitely resonated with me, because I was a teenager who struggled with suicidal ideation for years.
Reading through other reviews, I am stunned by the number of people commenting and saying Hannah's reasons for committing suicide were "trivial." You are all missing the point.
Hannah, as portrayed, is severely depressed.
She does not see the world the same way mentally healthy people do. Events do not look the same to her or feel the same to her as they do to you. I know, because I was a depressed teenager who almost committed suicide over nothing. Seriously. Nothing. I was homeschooled; I never got bullied. The world just looked huge and overwhelming and terrifying to me because I was not a mentally healthy person. It had very little to do with what was going on in the outside world, and almost everything to do with what was going on inside my head.
Even so, there were triggering events. I overheard my grandmother complaining that I was irresponsible because I'd forgotten to do a chore. To a mentally healthy person's ears, that's "Great, she's annoyed, I'd better remember next time." To my depressed ears, it meant that I was worthless and would never, ever be good enough, and that I had lost the love and respect of everyone that mattered to me. I barely managed to talk myself out of suicide that day.
Now I'm in my 20s. I'm not depressed anymore. I've finished college. I'm happy and well-adjusted. But it still chills me to the bone when I see people talking ignorantly and dismissively about a character with mental illness, and failing to see how mental illnesses change the way you perceive and react to the world.
The fact that people commit suicide for reasons that aren't "good enough" does not for a second make it okay to dismiss the reality of their pain. We should all be looking for warning signs, all the time. Even in people who haven't experienced severe trauma. Because that isn't how mental illness works; it doesn't require severe trauma. We should all remember that we can't really know the mental state of the people we're interacting with, and as much as is in our power, avoid cruel acts--even ones that seem small to us--which might serve as the last straw.
Sometimes, there aren't any reasons at all, just illness and a broken mind. That doesn't make any suicidal person's pain any less real, or their life any less valuable. Just because they don't have "valid reasons" doesn't make them not worth fighting for.(less)
This book made me sad, because I really liked Reena. She was well-developed and kind of awesome. Except when she was around Sawyer. As Reena's best fr...moreThis book made me sad, because I really liked Reena. She was well-developed and kind of awesome. Except when she was around Sawyer. As Reena's best friend Shelby said: Whenever Sawyer was around, Reena forgot how responsible and smart she was. I think the title of this book should be "How to Have a Destructive, Dysfunctional Relationship". Has a ring to it, right?
And Sawyer was a jerk. Just an epic a-hole. I wanted to kick him in the crotch. Hard.
Very disappointing story from a writer who obviously has a lot of skill.(less)
I wanted to love this book. I really, really did, in part because the cover was lovely. I usually have an incredible soft spot for stories about famil...moreI wanted to love this book. I really, really did, in part because the cover was lovely. I usually have an incredible soft spot for stories about families who protect and care for each other. The prose is very beautiful, and the Vermont landscape is lovingly described. However... there were a couple of things about this story that drove me completely crazy by the end.
1) Everything that could possibly go wrong, does. I do mean EVERYTHING. Every time the sisters take initiative and come up with an idea, it fails catastrophically within pages. To the point that I almost started to wonder if the moral of the story is "Don't ever take initiative! YOU WILL DIE!" Every idea these two little girls have just leads to more pain and struggle. It was depressing and eventually felt annoying and a bit contrived.
2) This section is spoilery: (view spoiler)[The girls' great journey, the one that causes so much pain and hardship, that ends with them badly injured and one of them almost dying? It is for NOTHING. Absolutely pointless. The journey, quest if you will, that takes up almost the entire book... It avails them nothing. At the end, they're right where they started, just injured and traumatized. There's a pretty sentiment tacked on about how "love is the greatest magic", and it's a nice thought, but for me it wasn't enough to make up for the pointlessness of most of the book. (hide spoiler)]
In conclusion: The author definitely has potential, but I'd skip this one.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I was fourteen when I found this book hiding on the shelves of my small-town library. My mother had had a psychotic break when I was six weeks old, wa...moreI was fourteen when I found this book hiding on the shelves of my small-town library. My mother had had a psychotic break when I was six weeks old, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and institutionalized. For as long as I could remember, I had been tiptoeing around the gaping hole in my life. I knew hardly anyone else in the same situation.
This is the book that told me I wasn't alone. In beautiful, wrenching, spare poetry, Sones paints a picture of a child's life, lived in the shadow of a mentally ill loved one. Her anger, confusion, grief, love, and resentment bleed onto the page, as vividly as I remember from my own childhood. This is the book that told me it was okay to feel all those things at once.
One of my favorite books of all time. Moseley's prose is gorgeous and evocative (the landscape is a character in itself), and there are no stereotypes...moreOne of my favorite books of all time. Moseley's prose is gorgeous and evocative (the landscape is a character in itself), and there are no stereotypes here, no caricatures; the characters are complex and interesting. The main ones are Miranda, widow, mother of 6, struggling to escape from her oppressive, legalistic, cult-like church; and Jack, divorced college professor, a man of both faith and reason, who is equal parts angry and sad to see the life in which Miranda and her children are trapped. Both characters are intelligent, capable of great kindess and love, and like most people, struggling with their own kinds of damage.
This book isn't just exceptionally well-written. (I'm normally not a fan of romance, but the one in this book was so well-done that I didn't mind it one bit.) This book is important. It addresses a world that needs to be better known: the world of Quiverfull fundamentalist homeschooling separatists. Now, Moseley is not implying that all homeschoolers are like this. Obviously not; she herself homeschooled her 3 children. But she is shining a light on a homeschooling subculture that exists, and is a prison to everyone within it. I know. I have a number of friends who grew up in it. Some are still struggling years later.
The Quiverfull movement at its most extreme gives all women, regardless of temperament or gifting or ability, exactly one role in life: to have as many babies as possible, homeschool them all, cook and clean and practice extreme submission. Men are the ultimate, unquestionable authority. (Which many of them feel trapped into, as well--imagine being a sensitive, indecisive guy in a system like this!) Children are harshly forced into unqualified, unquestioning obedience, rather than being taught how to think for themselves and make good choices. Performance and conformity are valued far above grace and courage.
Moseley does a tremendous job of writing a vivid story set against the backdrop of that world, without infodumps and without reducing the characters to bland, powerless stereotypes. Miranda and her children are all so believable that I felt like I knew them, by the end; and despite being trapped in such a stifling world, none of them are without agency. Miranda in particular is done with being controlled; when Jack tries to give her orders, though they come from the opposite of the Quiverfull mentality, she lets him know that her life will no longer be run by men. She will be making her own decisions. She is discovering grace and freedom, the way we all must: not at anyone else's behest, but between herself and God.
I will be leaping to buy any further books by this author.(less)