Tag Archives: mental health

Poetry that rocks! Swallowtail and Atticus!

The Dark Between Stars, Swallowtail

Hey guys! So today I have two poetry recommendations for you. I read both poetry collections recently and I adored them for their raw individuality.

Swallowtail by Brenna Twohy

Swallowtail: A deep dive into the dissection of popular culture, and how the brightness and horrors of it can be mirrors into the daily lived experiences of women in America.

Swallowtail by Brenna Twohy was a great read. The most prominent themes include loss, grief, and coping. The words penned by the author, though burgeoning with the grief of a broken heart, are poignant and resonates with the deepest sadness in the reader. Rape culture has also been addressed here and it is stark in its imagery and leaves the reader gasping. Pop Culture References from Survivor as well as Harry Potter have also been brought in.

I absolutely loved it and rated it 4/5 stars! Including here, links to Amazon, Goodreads

Poetry by Atticus

I admit I like THE DARK BETWEEN STARS much more than I did LOVE HER WILD. This one does not only revolve around love but also delves into the deeper themes of self-love, etc. There is a certain dichotomy and duality with both the happiness and the sadness that trouble us. In this collection, the poet writes about falling in love, being in a relationship with someone, and then the aftermath of a breakup as well. He includes scenes from Paris, Jazz clubs, wines, sunsets, etc. Thus the whole collection is a sensory experience that is experienced wholeheartedly by the reader. As such, it is as if the reader is in the moment, experiencing this whole slew of emotions and the beauty lives on.

I rated this book 4/5 stars!

Recommended poetry reads:

  1. Lord of the Butterflies
  2. The Octopus Curse
  3. Walk With Wings
  4. Unlocked Silences, Ease

Every Ugly Word , by Aimee L. Slater, 2014

Title: Every Ugly Word

Author: Aimee L. Slater

Publisher: Alloy Entertainment

Genre: Contemporary/Mental-health/YA

Format: Kindle e-book

Language: English

No. of pages: 257

Synopsis:

When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self.

Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop.

#1 Amazon Bestseller: Books for Teens (Oct 2015)

My review:

I received a review copy from Netgalley in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I read this book as a part of the Underrated Book Club by Kajree, for May 2019. #underratedreadsbookclub

I am happy I read this book myself. Being a high-schooler is really tough. I sometimes feel lucky that I never had to face it.

The protagonist Ashley is a really dynamic character – we see her facing a lot of issues that have led her to where she is presently, which is to say, when the book starts. In the beginning, we may infer that Ashley is really only wrapped around her own head but as the story progresses, we kind of see her as a victim and really feel bad for her. The themes of bullying, both at home and school, and consequently, mental health; of facing the consequences of one’s decisions etc. the constant bullying is heartbreaking to read about and not at all a pleasure. It really surprises me still, to see how people can be so unkind to others sometimes.

Mom twitched under my glare. “There are plenty of parents who wouldn’t allow you to go tonight, Ashley. And I’m sure they’d all mean well. But if a girl like you wants to keep a guy’s interest – “ “Are you seriously telling me to use sex to keep a guy interested?” Her lips thinned. “I’m telling you I would understand if you did.”

Can you imagine what it would feel like if someone’s mother says that to her? Would it not obviously affect the self-esteem of the person?

And thus, it is no wonder to me when the psychologist says this to Ashely,

“It concerns me, though, that you are willing to accept such a vaguely defined relationship. It says a lot about how you gauge your own value”.

I quite liked Matt although he really pissed me off at times. (Why is it that boys are so blind sometimes?) nonetheless, he is quite a really good friend and towards the end, we actually see that he has stayed true over the years. The author has portrayed him as a real fleshed out character with flaws of his own and that really gives a realistic nature to the narrative.

The element of the fantasy and the magical realism, through the use of the mirror selves, is great and adds another spatial depth to the book. Mostly, this book is hopeful and I love it for that.

Despite all the hate and the pain, Ashley emerges victorious and I don’t know what that can be called except hopeful for the rest of us readers as well as for herself. The author has also made Ashley so real, it is almost as if I can stretch and touch her.

Verdict:

I really loved reading this book and I rate it a 4/5 stars. 

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman, 2017

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Publishers: Hachette Publishers
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mental Health
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes . . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart.
My review:
Eleanor Oliphant was a completely heartwarming read and I for one, am simply glad that I finally picked up this book as a part of my August read in the Dr. Snob’s Book Club.
“These days, loneliness is the new cancer – a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted.”
The plot was truly well made- and though I felt that it dragged for a bit in the middle part, it had an overall heartwarming touch to it. The ending was truly not one I had anticipated and the twist that you get, will truly twist your mind. It is, I admit, not a very climatic scene- do not expect The Woman in the Window kind of revelation- for it is not a thriller. Nonetheless, at certain other parts, it surely felt like it was.
The central character- our protagonist- Eleanor is like every other woman- except that she’s not! She’s the type of person that I personally classify as a highly functioning sociopath- very much like Sherlock Holmes (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) puts it. As a reader, you can’t help but relate with her, at least on some points; I know I did. And at times, you can’t help but feel pity for this amazing woman who has had to suffer so much.
The themes in this novel are also very relatable in modern day life. At times, this book feels like a very casual and toned down Modernist novel- featuring the bleak regularity of everyday life. Apart from this monotonousness, we see the elements of friendship, and humanity- both within the spectrum of human relationships.
The writing style is very free-flowing and gradual and the overall effect is beautiful- it reads delightfully. The grammar and editing was perfect and while I type this, I feel so much like Eleanor- always preferring to use the correct English over colloquial slangs and short forms.
Verdict:
I honestly cannot believe that Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was a debut- it was exceptionally well written. I’m looking forward to reading more books by the author. I rate this a 4/5 stars.

All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven, 2015

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Publishers: Penguin Random House
Genre: Young Adult/Mental Health
Format: Paperback
 
Synopsis:
 The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.
 
My review:
All the Bright Places is a modern day literary masterpiece- a beautiful YA fiction that touches upon and revolves around so many important issues that teenagers today, face. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and it’s certainly a book I shall be picking up again and again. It is one of the best books I have read in 2018 and I am so glad that I finally picked it up. Now that I have read it, I cannot simply imagine myself living without having read this book.
Plot wise, I love the format that the author has taken up, separating the entire story into small chapters so that it is easier for the reader. The actual plot, is in itself a heartbreaking one- loss is always a loss, and like a particular someone said, “Sometimes things feel true to us, even if they’re not.” This is the first Niven book I have read and I am absolutely in love with her execution- the deliberate care with which she has birthed Finch, Violet, Amanda, Charlie and so on. It is a bittersweet tale of love, loss, friendship, family, mental health and our inner demons.
The character of Violet undergoes a beautiful journey- we see her develop from a bad place to a good one. On the other hand, it is the exact opposite for Finch. He spirals from bad to good to worse. It is tragic and yet so true. The portrayal of the characters and their feelings, whether peaceful or not, is apt and really touches one’s chords.
The allusions made in this book are also wonderful- especially those related to the famous novels and literary works. I found a really good list on Shmoop and shall link it in here: https://www.shmoop.com/all-the-bright-places/allusions.html
The theme of mental health was the centre hogging one and just as well- fiction is the medium through which we are no spreading the awareness, and opposing the age-old taboo about mental illnesses and depression and suicide.
Verdict:
I loved this book and rate it a 5 star! I definitely recommend all to read it.