Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Stop Pretending by Sonya Sones

From Goodreads:  It happens just like that, in the blink of an eye. An older sister has a mental breakdown and has to be hospitalized. A younger sister is left behind to cope with a family torn apart by grief and friends who turn their backs on her. But worst of all is the loss of her big sister, her confidante, her best friend, who has gone someplace no one can reach.

In the tradition of The Bell Jar, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, and Lisa, Bright and Dark comes this haunting first book told in poems, and based on the true story of the author's life.


I'm not at all surprised that this book won the award for Best Books for Young Adults (ALA) in 2000. Based on true events, it comes across as a very honest depiction of a family dealing with the aftermath of a mental breakdown - and I applaud the author for writing about what is obviously a very personal subject.

Written as a collection of poems it is a quick, but very satisfying read. I found myself seeing the distinction between stories that are told through a series of poems or verse, and a collection of poems that tell a story. There were many poems in this book that really stand out on their own - Hospitalized being one of them. According to the Author's Note at the end of the book this is the poem from which Stop Pretending was born and I can see why.

The story is told by Cookie, and through her we get to see her families grief. I felt a strong sense of isolation - her friends are no longer her friends, her parents are obviously struggling to deal with it themselves. And then there is her sister - who has become a stranger - and Cookie's worry that she too may develop a mental illness. One saving grace though is John. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story - very sweet and a great way to show life does go on - even when it feels as if it's falling apart.

I don't want to give too much away - I think it's one of those books you need to discover for yourself. I've got to say though, that I thought the ending was perfect and one that made me smile (albeit through tears!) I would also recommend reading the author's note at the end - to realise this is based on her real life experiences made me really think about how we view mental illness in society. Perhaps this story will help break down the walls and make it less of a taboo - something that we become more understanding towards.

3 comments:

Lauren said...

I love how you seem to be on a bit of a verse novel kick, because I love them and it's great to get the low down on titles on my wishlist. This one sounds poignant and definitely worth a read.

I Want To Read That said...

Lauren - Yes I am very much on a verse novel kick - I'm just really loving them at the moment (and have bought loads!) I'm also doing a verse week 18th-24th October - hopefully that will act as an outlet for my addiction!

Clover said...

I adore verse novels too! And Sonya Sones in particular.

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