Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Books I've Read: The Memory of Light
I had some mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it offers a very realistic picture of depression and how it feels, and, in many ways, how the people closest to you can fail to understand how crushing it can be. On the other hand, many of the events just felt unrealistic.
Unlike many other books dealing with mental illnesses, this one doesn't linger too long on the events leading up to Vicky's suicide attempts. Little detail is given to what drove her to that point. Instead, the book focuses on her recovery and the comradeship she finds with the odd group of other kids she's thrown together with in her therapy group.
But various events conspire to tear the group apart, and Vicky winds up back at home, back in the environment that led her to want to take her own life. Her family seem incapable of understanding what she is going through and just want her to buck her ideas up and get back into her regular life. This really resonated with me because too few people understand that depression isn't something you can drag yourself out of by being busy or following a routine.
Yet this was the part of the book where I felt things started falling apart to a certain degree. The events got too dramatic, and some of Vicky's reactions seemed too far out of character to be realistic. I understand that she's growing and changing and that as her depression lifts, her actions would be different, but I don't think the changes would be that dramatic, that quickly. Recovery is a long, slow road, and it's never a smooth one.
But overall, I'd recommend this one. I enjoyed reading it, despite the few bobbles in believability toward the end.
But don't just listen to me. Here's the blurb.
Vicky Cruz shouldn’t be alive.
That’s what she thinks, anyway—and why she tried to kill herself. But then she arrives at Lakeview Hospital, where she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.
Yet Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up—sending her back to the life that drove her to suicide—Vicky must find her own courage and strength. She may not have any. She doesn’t know.
Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one—about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.