The Boy Between by Josiah Hartley and Amanda Prowse @MrsAmandaProwse #nonfiction #mentalhealth #bookreview #worldbooknight @worldbooknight

Happy World Book Night everyone !!! I’ve made it my own personal annual challenge to read one of the World Book Night choices and review it on the day. Last year, I read James Milner’s Ask A Footballer and this year, I’ve selected another nonfiction read from the list – The Boy Between by Josiah Hartley and Amanda Prowse.

What Is World Book Night?

Here’s what the World Book Night website says

Reading for pleasure is a globally recognised indicator in a huge range of social issues from poverty to mental health, yet in England alone, 36% of people don’t regularly read (DCMS, 2015).

World Book Night brings people from all backgrounds together for one reason – to inspire others to read more. Organisations and individuals hold events up and down the country to celebrate the difference that reading makes to our lives, from book themed parties at home to books swaps in offices. Organisations can volunteer to hand out books from our annual list to people who don’t read for pleasure or own books.

World Book Night is celebrated on 23 April and run by The Reading Agency.

We tackle life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading.

Each year a selection of books are given out as part of the night in various locations. Some are previous publications, some are the Quick Reads books that were published earlier this month.

The Blurb

Bestselling novelist Amanda Prowse knew how to resolve a fictional family crisis. But then her son came to her with a real one…

Josiah was nineteen with the world at his feet when things changed. Without warning, the new university student’s mental health deteriorated to the point that he planned his own death. His mother, bestselling author Amanda Prowse, found herself grappling for ways to help him, with no clear sense of where that could be found. This is the book they wish had been there for them during those dark times.

Josiah’s situation is not unusual: the statistics on student mental health are terrifying. And he was not the only one suffering; his family was also hijacked by his illness, watching him struggle and fearing the day he might succeed in taking his life.

In this book, Josiah and Amanda hope to give a voice to those who suffer, and to show them that help can be found. It is Josiah’s raw, at times bleak, sometimes humorous, but always honest account of what it is like to live with depression. It is Amanda’s heart-rending account of her pain at watching him suffer, speaking from the heart about a mother’s love for her child.

For anyone with depression and anyone who loves someone with depression, Amanda and Josiah have a clear message—you are not alone, and there is hope.

What Did I Think?

“Your normal is your normal”

Who defines what is normal? We all do. We all have our own idea of what is normal. The one problem is that my normal is different to your normal. Josh’s normal decided to redefine itself overnight and it was a rocky road for him, his family and his friends to travel to understand this new normal. Not just understand it but to help and support Josh as he finds another new normal that wasn’t so grey.

Just reading Amanda’s introduction made me feel emotional, I read with tears falling from my eyes. Not only as a mum who wants to protect her children but also as someone who has struggled (and still does to an extent) with stress and anxiety, particularly over the past couple of years. Something resonated with me. I knew before I started, I was in for an emotional read but didn’t expect it so early in my journey with this mother and son.

And it wasn’t just the introduction that got to me. Little anecdotes and statements tugged my emotional strings like anything. At times I was overwhelmed with emotion that I had to put my kindle down to compose myself – I couldn’t read with tears in my eyes!

“He in fact is one of the reasons that I didn’t take my own life. I hope he knows this.”

The two authors have very distinct voices with Josh’s raw honest feelings and Amanda’s maternal worries. I definitely identified with Amanda’s anxiety about being a working mum. But she also made me think about my actions as a mother. Was I preconditioned from my upbringing as to what was perceived to be important? It made me reflect on what’s important for my sons.

It feels important to say that everyone’s depression journey is different and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment or solution.”

This is not a book to skim read. It’s one to savour, to learn from, even if your own world hasn’t gone grey, you’re likely to know someone whose has, whether you know not or not. This is a very sombre, heart breaking, thought provoking and hard book to read. It’s not something I can say I enjoyed as that’s not the right word at all but I can see it being a read that’ll stay with me and I’ll come back to. If you’ve ever been touched by the dark monster of depression, or if you haven’t, this book is a must read. Mental illness is not to be dismissed.

Who Is Josiah Hartley?

Josiah (Josh) Hartley lives in an isolated farmhouse in the West Country, but close enough to Bristol to enjoy its music scene. He is an animal lover and servant to two French Bulldogs. Equally happy at a music festival or watching rugby with his mates, he likes the outdoor life and with Devon only a short drive away often heads to the sea to surf and sit on the beach watching the sun go down. After a stint at the University of Southampton and another at the University of Bristol and one unsuccessful suicide attempt, Josh decided to write about his descent into mental illness and the depression that has held him in its grip for the past few years. The Boy Between carries the overriding message that things can and often do get better. It’s a book of reflection, raw, honest and full of hope: the proof being that Josh is still here and now excited about what comes next. He is ready to catch any opportunities that life throws his way, quite a thing for someone who only three years ago was living in a world gone grey, ready to disappear from the face of the earth…

Who Is Amanda Prowse?

Amanda Prowse likens her own life story to those she writes about in her books. After self-publishing her debut novel, Poppy Day, in 2011, she has gone on to author twenty-five novels and six novellas. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages and she regularly tops bestseller charts all over the world. Remaining true to her ethos, Amanda writes stories of ordinary women and their families who find their strength, courage and love tested in ways they never imagined. The most prolific female contemporary fiction writer in the UK, with a legion of loyal readers, she goes from strength to strength. Being crowned ‘queen of domestic drama’ by the Daily Mail was one of her finest moments. Amanda is a regular contributor on TV and radio but her first love is, and will always be, writing. This is her first work of non-fiction.

You can find her online at http://www.amandaprowse.com, on Twitter or Instagram @MrsAmandaProwse, and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/amandaprowsenogreaterlove.