Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Never Fight Alone by Shelomo Solson

Never Fight Alone: 51 Inspiring Interviews to Help Teens Overcome Their Struggles & Improve Their Mental Health
 is a YA inspirational non-fiction book that was sent to me by the author. Solson conducted 51 interviews with teens who hit rock bottom and rose above it, finding the strength to make a difference in the world and help others. 

What separates this book from Chicken Soup and other inspirational short story reads is that Never Fight Alone is formatted in direct interviews. I can read exactly what these teens said, which makes it more personal. The author took a different, more personal approach of being a journalist who endured massive struggles in his life. Different from publishing for money, Solson genuinely wrote Never Fight Alone for the sole purpose of helping teens who struggled like he did growing up. One of my favorite parts of each interview is that each focuses on how far they have come. Each chapter leaves you feeling hopeful. If he could beat this, if she could find a way to be happy, then maybe I can, too. 

It is also amazing at how much emphasis is placed on suicidal thoughts and how to combat them. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24, and 1 out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9–12) consider suicide (The Trevor Project). This book also involves other issues such as abuse, sexuality, addiction, eating disorders, and even dwarfism.  Never Fight Alone emphasizes the "silver lining of hope" and how asking for help is nothing to be embarrassed about. When feeling when feeling depressed and isolated, thinking "why me" and feeling ashamed is common, but Never Fight Alone proves more than any other book I have read that nobody is ever hopeless or alone. 

Favorite quote: "Anytime I felt weak or vulnerable, instead of asking, 'Why me?', I thought of people who had it worse than me, and it changed my mindset to 'What can we do to make each other happy? How can we do the things that better each other?'" (67).

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Never Fight Alone: 51 Inspiring Interviews to Help Teens Overcome Their Struggles & Improve Their Mental Health 
Author: Shelomo Solson
Publisher: Shelomo Solson
Pages: 306
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, September 4, 2020

Special by Chino Chakanga

40805404. sy475 Special is a YA fantasy novel that was sent to me by the author. In a world where everybody has superpowers, Hope does not. Her medical mystery leads to tons of surgeries and research studies desperate to "cure" her, while society treats her as inferior, Hopeless, a maladroit. As Hope struggles to find self-confidence, she is thrust into the plot of a fellow classmate who is resorting to extreme measures to gain equality- and Hope might be the only person who can stop him.

Special is one of my favorite books that I have read in a long time. Rather than the popular topic of the protagonist struggling with having powers, Special explores the opposite with a girl who is struggling in a world where everyone has powers but her. Similar with taboos on those with mental illness or learning disabilities, Special touches on modern-world injustices and biases against those who are "less" than others, as well as the extreme lengths one will go to gain equality. What is so inspirational in this story is the message that nobody is hopeless; everybody has a purpose and can rise up to overcome anything if they can believe in themselves. Once Hope accepts who she is, she breaks down every wall put in her way.

I love the doll on  the cover because Hope has been a doll for years, being poked and prodded with dozens of surgeries. But over the course of the book, Hope regains her independence and confidence, no longer only being a doctor's toy. Another impressive thing to note is the connection to autism and those on the spectrum. Hope has Ability Dysfunction Spectral Disorder (ADSD or AD). There is also a subset called "High-Functioning AD". Sound familiar? Autistic people are four times as likely to experience depression. Hope goes through a really dark time and struggles with depression and feeling hopeless. Special dives deep into mental illness, too, even also touching on opiod addiction. Chakanga is skilled with being concise with her word choices while still being powerful.

I highly, highly recommend this book!

Title: Special
Author: Chino Chakanga
Publisher: Chino Chakanga
Pages: 252
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
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