This week I'm doing a series of posts that tie in to Mental Health Awareness Week 2015. Although this year's theme is Mindfulness, I'll be sharing some books and book related things that I feel are applicable to mental health awareness in some way.
It starts with a poignant meeting on the ledge of a bell tower. Theodore Finch is thinking about taking his own life and often dreams up different ways of doing it. Violet Markey is still devastated by the death of her sister and is struggling to cope. On the day of their meeting, nobody jumps.
The two teenagers, who normally would not socialise with each other, are then thrown together for a school project in which they must wander their state and find points of interest.
Through their wanderings, the pair open up to each other in ways they never thought possible. Slowly, friendship and understanding turns to love, and as Violet’s world begins to grow as she comes to terms with the passing of her sister, Finch’s grows smaller and Violet wonders if she will be able to save him.
Right from the off I became emotionally attached to the two characters. Violet has experienced an utter tragedy, and so her actions are relatable. Finch is a turbulent character, constantly changing and trying to work out who he is. I found myself feeling sorry for him and also finding him to be brave in equal measure.
He is certainly a forceful personality and the sort of character that you don’t forget in a hurry. You see all the elements of his family and life that have helped shaped him. His forays into darkness and his obsession with suicide are quite harrowing to read but are an important part of his character.
It is a sad fact that most people have known a person that has committed suicide (myself included) and although it is a hard subject to talk about, it is important that it not be ignored. The author treats the subject very thoughtfully in the wording and context of the story. I loved the premise of the wanderings and when Finch and Violet find their bright places, they leave a part of themselves there, the imagery of which I found quite striking.
As well as the story, the author’s note about how the book came about is truly touching and really puts some perspective to the book. There is also lots of useful contact information for different mental health organisations.
This book is already a hit in the YA and bookish community and I really hope that it is picked up and enjoyed by a much wider audience. As well as being a beautifully written story, it has such important messages to give as well, that will touch each reader in its own way. I don’t want to give too much more away about this story but this is an incredibly moving novel that should be in every school and library in this country and beyond.