Here We Are Now

Here We Are Now – Jasmine Warga

After absolutely loving My Heart and Other Black Holes I jumped at the chance to read Jasmine Warga’s next book and this didn’t disappoint!

Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.
Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.
With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

Essentially this book is two separate threads of the same story, we have Taliah’s story of finally meeting the absent rock star father, of going on a trip with him to meet the family she has never known where we see her insecurities and anxieties play out in this situation. Alongside that, we get the backstory, the tale of her parents, how they met, how they came together and how they ended up where they are now, we learned the story alongside Taliah which made me feel like I could really get immersed in the story. Also, much like her first book, which beautifully tackled the subject of depression, this book realistically portrays Taliah’s anxieties and insecurities in a relatable and understandable way and her friendship with Harlow had me nodding along and going SAME every time she examined it further.

This doesn’t have quite the same emotional impact as My Heart, but is still a story that tugs on the heart strings. The book essentially ends, just as Taliah’s story is beginning, creating a wonderful tableau for the rest of her life. There is an argument that this is a bit style over substance, but you really don’t mind when the characters are as interesting as Tal and her family. Also, you’ve got to love a story with a diverse cast, Tal is biracial, having a Jordanian mother and white American father, her best friend Harlow is a lesbian. There were a lot of references to things like Hamilton which I wasn’t sure if I liked, like, I love Hamilton and I love a good reference, but also having it mentioned several times made me feel a bit… odd.

Overall though, this was just very cute and a bit fluffy and on these cold wintery nights, that’s all you want.

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The Year they Burned the Books

The Year they burned the books – Nancy Garden

It has been far too long since I’ve read a book by Nancy Garden, I read Annie on my Mind about a million years ago and although it was a little dated, I did enjoy it and am a little ashamed its taken me this long to pick up another of her books. As this book from the nineties is being re released I grabbed a copy from Netgalley!

When Wilson High Telegraph editor Jamie Crawford writes an opinion piece in support of the new sex-ed curriculum, which includes making condoms available to high school students, she has no idea that a huge controversy is brewing. Lisa Buel, a school board member, is trying to get rid of the health program, which she considers morally flawed, from its textbooks to its recommendations for outside reading. The newspaper staff find themselves in the center of the storm, and things are complicated by the fact that Jamie is in the process of coming to terms with being gay, and her best friend, Terry, also gay, has fallen in love with a boy whose parents are anti-homosexual. As Jamie’s and Terry’s sexual orientation becomes more obvious to other studetns, it looks as if the paper they’re fighting to keep alive and honest is going to be taken away from them. Nancy Garden has depicted a contemporary battleground in a novel that probes deep into issues of censorship, prejudice, and ethics.

I am sad to say that there are still people who have to live in this kind of community, where their education and their rights are diminished every day by fundamentalists, so even though this is a rerelease of an older book and feels a little dated in places, this is still a little bit too fresh in terms of the rampant homophobia that Terry and Jamie experience throughout the book.

What we have here is the perfect starter novel for anyone looking for YA LGBTQA+ fiction, Nancy Garden presents such interesting characters in these books. Jamie, our main character, is an intelligent high school student who decides to start running her own paper alongside the school paper to try and keep the town informed on the news she isn’t allowed to report on due to the censorship imposed by an extreme church group. The book deals with her struggles, not only with her sexuality, but with the issues of truth and opinion and the difficult line between the two, as well as the ideas of community and what brings people together and tears them apart. All tropes that Nancy Garden does so well.

Though this isn’t necessarily ground breaking or diverse, especially when surrounded by books released more recently, The Year They Burned the Books is still sadly relevant and is a story that needs to be told.

Also, that cover is vewy nice.

October round up

Firstly can we just take a moment to appreciate that Emmerdale are doing ace representation now? Like that’s awesome! I did applaud them when they introduced a bisexual character and actually had them say they were bisexual. But then they ruined it by having them cheat on their wife with a guy who became his husband but then cheated on him with his ex wife’s sister and I’m like aaargh stop. Fingers crossed they do the ace storyline better. Anyway, this month has been… interesting. Lol. I experienced a proper posh meal which was super nice and had foam on it, but did also make me think of this Nick Miller moment:

What else happened this month? Well, Bake off broke my heart by not allowing Liam to win. Like seriously guys, wtf was that? Riverdale gave me anxiety while we wondered who would be the man in the hood’s next victim and Brooklyn 99 cheered my cold dead heart. I’m sure some other stuff happened, but honestly, I spent most of this month watching TV and avoiding going outside in the dark and rain!

What I read this month:

The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh
I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, Renee Ahdieh is a fantastic writer and the rich descriptions were amazing, but the story itself… Not so much… I don’t know, I guess I just have a bit of a problem with the slightly rapey moments and I feel like the romance was introduced far too quickly considering that our protagonist initially married the king to avenge her bff and all… This is a retelling of 1,001 Nights and having not read it, I don’t know how true a retelling it is, but I did enjoy reading about the magic and its always nice to read about a place that’s different to what you’re used to. Mostly, Khalid’s backstory mostly made me think of this Brooklyn 99 moment:

The Rose and the Dagger – Renee Ahdieh
I didn’t hate the first book enough to ignore the sequel, but I had much the same problems as I did with the first one. This book at least showed us more of the magic and we got to learn more about the world which I enjoyed and well, the lovers were separated for much of it, so that bit couldn’t annoy me as much!

Secrets for the Mad – Dodie Clark
I know we’re all supposed to hate YouTuber books, I know I hate any book that has  been pushed out because the creator is super popular and publishers love making money as much as the next person, but I was actually really interested to read this after seeing Dodie talk so candidly about her mental health struggles. Honestly, I was honoured to have an advanced copy. See my thoughts here. 

The Librarian of Auschwitz – Atonio Iturbe
This was an ARC provided for me by Netgalley and is based on real events taking place in Auschwitz featuring a host of interesting people, both prisoners and guards that I’ve learned about during trips to the camp and in history lessons. This is the English translation, which made me ignore the few grammar issues, and it was genuinely interesting and also heartbreaking because I know what happened to people like Fredy Hirst. Read the review here.

Otherworld – Jason Segal and Kirsten Miller
There were ARCS of this book available to be won while I was at YALC and as I didn’t get one, I thought I’d missed my chance to read this and that I’d have to wait until it was onsale, only then I saw it was available on netgalley. I have seen a couple of films with Jason Segal (and of course HIMYM) and it turns out he writes books too, I had no idea! See my thoughts on this here.

Help – Simon Amstell
Right, lets preface this with the fact that I adore Simon Amstell’s stand up and his sitcom Grandma’s House. I just find it funny to watch someone who talks about depression and loneliness and being awkward in front of people you fancy because same. This was described by Russell Brand as being all the warmth of Simon Amstell without the inconvenience of his face and I think that sums it up perfectly. This is a very introspective memoir as Simon strives for happiness and the things he found that helped him along the way.

The Year they burned the books – Nancy Garden
I loved Nancy Garden’s Annie on my Mind when I read it years ago and to be honest, its a bit bad on my part that I’ve not gotten around to reading any more of her work, so when I saw this available for request, I had to have it! Its a story that I’m ashamed to say is still a reality for a lot of people but I didn’t find it as hard hitting as Annie, but I would still recommend, stay tuned for my review.

Films I watched this month:
You may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, have been keeping up with my Film reviews in 10 tweets or less posts or this video, that I really like films and that I spend a lot of time watching them, so here are all the films (some new, some rewatches) that graced my television/ cinema screen this month!

  • Mary poppins
  • The other boleyn girl
  • Me earl and the dying girl
  • Bladerunner 2049
  • Scorch trial
  • Crimson Peak
  • Thor: Ragnarok

TV I watched his month:

  • Great British Bake off
  • Neo Yokio
  • Riverdale
    Jesus that opening episode!
  • Brooklyn nine nine
  • Stranger Things

My favourite Instagram posts this month:

went to the poshest place i’ve ever been for dinner with @georgiecasling!

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

birthday book haul.

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

What I did on YouTube this month:

What I loved on YouTube this month:
All the Buffer Fest entries started appearing at the beginning of the month and there were so many wonderful things from creators, such as this short film from Melanie Murphy and this animation from PJ. PJ an Chris also reunited for this which was very long overdue. This from Amazing Philwas hilarious and I can’t not mention Dan Howell’s video for World Mental Health Day the pair of them made a video for their new game which was also pretty funny and their annual baking video.

The Librarian of Auschwitz

The Librarian of Auschwitz – Antonio Iturbe (translated by Lilit Thwaites)

You probs already know this, but I will read anything and everything about the events of WW2, the rise of the Nazis and the extraordinary bravery displayed by those that were persecuted under Hitler, so naturally when I saw this, I had to pick it up. Also, its a translation and I’ve never read anything that wasn’t originally published in English before. (At least I don’t think I have…)

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz. 
Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

This is a mostly fictionalised account of the lives of a selected number of prisoners living in the family camp that was created as part of Auschwitz-Birkenhau, it features some of the notable inmates that I learned about when I visited a few years ago (maybe that’s a story for another time) as well as some of the more infamous names from the SS. It mostly follows the story of Fredy Hirsch, who managed to convince the commanders to allow him to set up a school in the camp and into which some books were smuggled, which were looked after by 14 year old Dita. Most of the inhabitants of this part of the camp were arrivals which had been marked for ‘special treatment’ and was one of the few places where children were allowed to live, rather than being sent straight to their deaths. It was a place of particular interest to Dr Mengele, who if you haven’t heard of, I recommend looking up, especially if you need a face to put to the word evil.

Like I said at the beginning, this version is a translation, so there are a few moments that feel like they’ve lost their context or features a strange word choice, I kind of wish I was more proficient with languages so I could read the original, but alas, languages aren’t really something that schools focus on in England. More’s the pity. I think this might be the first book I’ve ever read that has been translated into English and I’d love to expand my reading habits into more translated books if any of ya’ll can think of some to recommend.

The Librarian of Auschwitz is endlessly fascinating and heartbreaking and bitter sweet. It gives a detailed account of camp life and is unapologetic in its telling of the more harrowing moments the prisoner’s endured there. We learn about these incredibly brave people, like Fredy Hirsch, who wanted to make life as normal for the children in his care as possible and like Dita Kraus, who miraculously managed to survive the camps and after the war made her way to Israel. I wish there were more books like this telling the stories of those who were voiceless for so long and it is so important that we remember and we learn from these events, so we can make sure that such horrors are not repeated.
It is certainly a great book for those studying the period or with a particular interest in Nazi Germany and the occupation of Europe, it’s also interesting as many of the characters you come across in this book are of Romani descent, as well as Jewish and it also gives a little insight into places like Prague, which are often left out of history lessons.

Otherworld

Otherworld – Jason Segal and Kirsten Miller

I have no idea where to start with this! Do you ever read a book where you like it, but not as much as you wanted to? So like, it was alright, but that sounds too much like I disliked it, which I didn’t… Man, do I have thoughts!

The company says Otherworld is amazing—like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive—that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.
Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.
And it’s about to change humanity forever.
Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming.

I first heard of this book while persuing the proofs available to win at YALC back in the summer and I remember being mind blown that Jason Segal had his name on a book cos like, that’s Marshall from HIMYM (turns out he’s actually a bestselling author WHO KNEW?!?)

It was while I was at YALC that I first heard the premise and got a bit excited for this book, I’d read and loved Ready Player One and this sounded similar and there was a lot of hype about WarCross at the time too, so I figured books about games were going to be the new big thing. Well my experience of gaming is pretty much limited to Donkey Kong and Mario Kart 8 (I’m an insomnia, so Mario and I are very well acquainted) and now having read two books about gaming, I’m quite happy for it to stay that way. This is a great critique on technology being too relied on in society and the dangers that come from having so much information available and spending too much time in a virtual world instead of a real one. The action that takes place within the game and the mystery surrounding The Company and the Otherworld really drew me in. However, the romance wasn’t so great and I just didn’t really care about it and the story itself isn’t really that fresh or new, especially if you’ve read Ready Player One.

If you have read Ready Player One, this won’t be anything new to you. There is a VR game, our main character spends a lot of time there desperately trying to beat the game in order to finally be with the girl he loves. The world building in regards to the game is a bit similar, but much more nefarious and there is also an irl mystery going on, which kept the book moving, but did keep getting bigger and bigger and it was starting to test the suspension of disbelief a tad. Like, being faced with what humans would do when they’re living a virtual reality as opposed to real life is a big enough concept, but then there was also a conspiracy with the Company and the mystery surrounding all the people from the same town with the same rare medical needs, there’s so much going on with this book!

The adventure and the world building were amazing. Literally you can’t even pause for breath because the story whizzes along – its not really a book you can get bored of in that sense. It does fall short with the characters and the narration though. Because its not a character lead story, you don’t really get to connect with them. Simon is our protagonist, but I literally couldn’t tell you anything about him personality wise and I certainly didn’t care much for him. The same with Kat, I barely knew her, so I wasn’t that fussed about the romance or really understood why Simon was so motivated by her. Especially because come the beginning of the book, Simon has just returned from several months away at boarding school, during which time, Kat has stopped talking to him for reasons that were completely unknown for the majority of the book and don’t really make that much sense when they’re revealed. We’re also told in the first chapter that Simon has been been expelled from school and is on an FBI list because his room mate used his computer to do a spot of hacking, something that Simon took the blame for… Though why anyone would take the blame for something that serious, I’m not entirely sure. Why, considering this information, he was allowed early access to Otherworld is also a bit lost on me… It was kind of hard to understand his motivations at times. Most of the story’s big questions get answered in literally the last three chapters, this is a series so I’m guessing all the finer points will be ironed out later, but I did spend most of the book being like, come on, why was Kat a target? How does it make financial sense for The Company to be doing this? And so on. Also some of the reveals were a bit on the convenient side, so I’m hoping for a plot twist in later books.

Look, I said I had a lot of thoughts, it’s difficult when you enjoyed a book but also see problems with it. Basically, I liked this, it has a lot of good stuff going for it, but some of the pacing is weird and the characters aren’t that fleshed out. It reminded me a bit of the Death Runner series in that sense, lots of action, not enough character building. Also, and I swear this is the last thing I’ll mention that annoyed me, there is a moment really early on where Simon overhears two girls trash talking Kat, so he mansplains feminism and slut shaming to them and then hacks their phones and threatens to release their nudes. Like brah? You have not grasped the fundamentals of not slut shaming.

Anyway, Otherworld was a riot, thanks to Netgalley for the hook up and I’m interested to see where this will be going.

 

Let me introduce you to my brain

Hey, wanna know something super not cool?
My brain sucks.

Here’s the thing, I hate it when people post personal stuff on the internet. I mean, I can’t be the only one who scrolls through Facebook trying to locate all the memes that were funny on Tumblr 5 years ago and injures themselves from eyerolling at all the unnecessary melodrama of people’s posts. Its all ‘here’s some beef I’m starting with my best friend’ ‘here’s some goss about my ex.’ ‘urgh worst day ever!’ followed by people who normally don’t give a crap about you having their curiosity piqued and asking whats up, only to not receive a reply from the original poster. Hence why I tend to keep most of my personal stuff bottled, because I don’t want sympathy or to give someone else something to gossip about. Also because I’m aware of my privilege and I don’t want to seem whiny. But I’ve kinda gotten to the point where I’m finding it hard to keep stuff inside. So… I’m gonna talk about it I guess. Only not on Facebook. I’m sparing my fellow eye rollers that at least.

Here are a few reasons why I don’t like to talk about what is going on with my brain.
Firstly, I am really not comfortable talking about something that I’m not over yet. Secondly, I have a lot of shame and guilt associated with it. Thirdly, on the few occasions when I have tried to talk about it… Well, let’s just say I’ve not exactly had the support or the reaction that I’ve needed.
In fact, we’re only opening this can of worms today because this week, I tried once again to get a GP to listen to me and take my problems with my brain seriously. Because I live in the UK, I got to use the NHS. However because the literal devil is in charge of the country right now I can’t actually go and make an appointment to see a doctor, I have to call and leave a message and wait for a doctor to call me back and decide whether or not I’m sick enough to be worth their time. Long story short, I am still not sick enough to be worth their time. I’ve been going back and forth to a number of GPs at this surgery over the past 8 years with the same complaint. Every single time I have had the rather unhelpful advice of: “have you tried exercising?” like after 8 years that wouldn’t have been something I’ve tried. Yet again I have to sign up to a bunch of free CBT sessions. Most of which are during the day when I am occupied with my job (Which is a whole other thing) and the rest are full. So onto the waiting list I go.
Which is just peachy and has made me never want to discuss my brain with anyone ever again because yet again, it isn’t taken seriously.
As if that wasn’t enough, today I was approached by someone who proceeded to tell me about a young man they knew who had recently taken his own life, only not in the way such a subject would normally be broached, she was very disparaging of this young man, she didn’t think he should have been in mainstream school if he was suffering from a mental health issue. Later on tonight, I found out that the same young man was a member of an organisation that I am also part of. The people there spoke incredibly highly of him and talked of their sadness at losing such a popular and creative person.
Though I had decided a little while ago that I wanted to be better, tonight really made me mean it. I want to be better. I don’t want to continue down this path and have people lament the loss of my potential or bad mouth me for finding a way out. I’m just not sure how. Maybe that’s the point of this. Anyway, like I said, doesn’t exactly make me want to talk about my mental health.

Here is a list of other things that have been said to me on other occasions when I have tried to discuss the problems with my brain, just so you know I’ve already heard them and don’t want to hear them again:

  • You’re not depressed, you’re just over reacting
  • Stop being so sensitive
  • You have anxiety? Haha, but you love getting on the tube!
  • What do you have to be depressed about?
  • You’re not depressed, stop being so negative, the glass isn’t always half empty.
  • Have you tried drinking more water?
  • Why are you being so pessimistic about it?
  • Pull yourself together and stop being silly, I’m going to be late.

That one was particularly special because I was having a panic attack at the time.
World Mental Health Day was this week and seeing so many people I admire and look up to be open and talk about their experiences had me in awe, but even though it’s 2017 and Twitter has been flooded with people being supportive and sharing,  I’m not comfortable talking about my mental health partly because I’ve never actually had it taken seriously. I don’t think that’s anyone’s fault particularly, I just think its something many people are ignorant about or just don’t want to think about. Maybe its because I come from a very working class background and the kind of people I grew up around didn’t have time for things like mental illness, they had mines to mine and unions to join and work had to be done because life was about getting up, going to work, sleeping and repeating. There was no time for emotions or lack thereof. (Fun fact, even though I still think of myself as being working class, I have a therapist and I’ve eaten quinoa which is quite middle class when you think about it.)
But without meaning to, every time someone brushes me off or invalidates my feelings (or lack thereof cos full disclosure, I alternate between anger, sadness and numbness) all you do is add to the overwhelming feeling of worthlessness. To you I am over dramatic, to me, the voice in my head telling me no one cares and wondering how long it would take people to notice if I died gets louder. That one is a particular favourite of my brain, it likes to ask me that question around the moment I’m just drifting off to sleep, which then leaves me staring at my ceiling blankly for hours trying to calculate whether it would take longer than a week for anyone to get concerned about not seeing/hearing from me. It’s a riot let me tell you.
I think my other reason for not being comfortable about my mental health stems from that invalidation because mostly, when I think about how numb or angry or depressed I feel I get a sense of guilt and shame. What have I got to be depressed about? I have somewhere to live, I have a car, I live in a fairly affluent area, I have a regular wage, there are so many people in the world that have it way worse. I don’t have the right to feel like this. Which of course, makes me feel sad about feeling sad.
I’m ashamed because I’m not strong enough to cope with day to day life. I’m ashamed because for eight years I have been crying at GPs trying to explain how I feel. I’m ashamed because my mum lost the ability to walk and there I am completely healthy and yet wasting my life stuck in this black hole. Then I feel guilty for being in the black hole at all.

I can’t keep doing this.
I can’t keep pretending I’m ok. I’m not.
I can’t keep wasting my life in this void.

The bullies I face every day are nothing compared to the voice in my head. The world around me isn’t as vibrant as I know it should be. I’m fed up living life constantly exhausted from having to pretend to be smiley. I started a project in January where I decided to film my life and upload it to the internet a month at a time, so I could look back on all the things that happened in 2017 and remember the good times. I managed to get to May before finding fun things to record started to get hard. I’m pretty good at the hiding it most of the time though. Like, if you watch that video from May, you’ll see me have fun japes with socialists in Brighton. I conveniently left out the bit where I debated jumping in front of a train, thank Southern Rail for being so delayed that the platform got too busy for me to want to do it, I also left out the bit where I sat on the beach for two hours practically catatonic just listening to my mind tell me about how worthless and pathetic I was to have gone to the other side of the country on my own and to have been there for a day without once receiving so much as a marketing email. I don’t want to remember things like that. I don’t want to be writing things like this. I don’t want to make excuses or be pitied, but I do want to explain, because the way my brain is makes me irritable and I snap at people who don’t deserve it. The way my brain is makes me not trust why someone would be nice to me because clearly I am an awful person. Things like this don’t happen to nice people – hey, rationality isn’t part of the deal sadly. The way my brain is makes me not have the motivation to do any of the things it knows it enjoys. The way my brain is makes me dwell on things that are too ridiculous to fathom. The way my brain is makes me doubt everything. The way my brain is makes me sad and lonely and angry and numb and makes the world seem dark which bums people out, so I try to stay away from them. All these things are kinda getting worse, so is this an apology? Who knows.
If you’ve never experienced that, I’m super happy for you. Well, at least I think I am. I don’t actually even remember how to feign happiness any more.

Will medication help me? Who knows. Certainly not my local GP surgery cos they don’t even want to give me the option. I guess I could run more, I guess I could see therapists I probably can’t afford, I guess I could actually talk to more like minded people on the internet. I guess I could try and let go of some of that guilt and shame and open up to people.

Whatever. I hate that I did this. I’ll probs delete it soon. But like, if you know me and you’re wondering wtf is up, I’m just very tired but I want to be better and I’m trying.

Secrets for the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons

Secrets of the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons – Dodie Clark

Right, let’s get this out of the way, Dodie Clark (or doddleoddle or just dodie as she is also known, no caps makes you super edgy online as my twitter follwers will attest) is a musician and YouTuber. She posts original songs, usually accompanied by a ukulele and more recently, she’s been making videos documenting her experiences with Derealisation and now she’s written a book about that experience. Having dealt with mental health issues myself, I am always interested to read more about how other people work though their struggles, which is why I was so interested to get a hold of this.

When I feel like I’m going mad I write.
A lot of my worst fears have come true; fears that felt so big I could barely hold them in my head. I was convinced that when they’d happen, the world would end.
But the world didn’t end. In fact, it pushed on and demanded to keep spinning through all sorts of mayhem, and I got through it. And because I persisted, I learned lessons about how to be a stronger, kinder, better human – lessons you can only learn by going through these sorts of things.
This is for the people with minds that just don’t stop; for those who feel everything seemingly a thousand times more than the people around them.
Here are some words I wrote.

So given that we’re all aware that we’re supposed to dislike books by YouTubers and given that I have mixed thoughts about the few books I’ve read that happened to have been written by YouTubers, what did I think of this?

Well…
The editor’s letter at the beginning of this mentions Sylvia Plath and I eye rolled so hard it hurt. I love Sylvia Plath and I hate when people are like ‘ohh like I’m cool and edgy, like Sylvia Plath’. Trust me, I have met people who genuinely say things like this.  So, even though I was interested to read this, that one sentence had me backing away slowly. But then I pulled myself together and skipped through to the only words that matter, the ones Dodie put in there and by god. If you were put off reading this because of the whole she’s a YouTuber, this is a way for publishers to make money off of her millions of young subscribers then push that thought out of your head. This isn’t Sylvia Plath, but it is, for the most part, beautiful and heart breaking and warm and endearing. Dodie writes in such an unflinchingly honest way about her experiences with mental health, emotional abuse and well… life, its refreshing and captivating.

The reason I was so interested to read this was, as I said, because I am interested in how people cope with their mental health, though this book is also about life lessons and observations, the opening chapters do deal with Dodie’s mental health experiences and the way she writes about it is captivating. As is the advice she gives about obsessions, growing up and love. Though there were times when I was left wondering who the intended audience was, some of the pages were written in a way that transcends age, others were clearly twenty something to twenty something and some spoke to the younger audience that I know Dodie has. In one way this is a plus, people of all ages can read and enjoy this book, in another I’m worried about how it will be marketed, I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on what is a solid read because no one is sure who to sell it to.

Despite only being in her early twenties, this was a great memoir. Normally I’d be like, live a little first, but honestly, there was more than enough material here to keep me engaged and essay like anecdotes were interspersed with song lyrics, journal entries, submissions from people who know Dodie well,  doodles and photographs – i had an egalley of this but the paper/hard back would be a much better reading experience and would allow you to better understand the stories the doodles, journal clippings and selected photos tell.

Also I feel there needs to be a special mention for the dedication at the beginning because it was hilarious.

All in all, though I wouldnt say this book was perfect and there were some moments that were stronger than others, this was a thoughtful, endearing memoir and though I really want to make a 6/10 reference, I think it deserves more than that!