The descriptive bit: Shaun David Hutchinson is a well-known YA author. You may have heard of some of his fiction: We Are The Ants, The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, At the Edge of the Universe and The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried (My review of Shaun’s most recent title is here). Brave Face is a memoir of the first part of his life.
My thoughts bit: This book was a remarkable journey. It was one of those books that I left a trail through … turned down corners at places that contained perfect descriptions, thoughts I know I will want to go back to.
I read parts of this book aloud to my partner, sometimes because it was a funny line, sometimes because I had never read a more perfect description of a feeling, thought …. or that nasty internal voice. Hutchinson captures the darkness and helplessness that can go hand-in-hand with depression. I have lived with depression for most of my life and I’ve never read a book before that captured it so well. I know that there are many ways that depression can manifest in a person’s life … this book and Shaun’s candid depiction made me feel understood.
Most of the time, I swallowed my anger. I drove it to the pit within me in a fiery plume of angry words or tears or blind rage that I directed at whatever inanimate object was closest. I kept my meltdowns to myself, because when they passed I was overcome with shame. I was confused. Then I turned that inside and began the whole process over again. – Brave Face
Not only is this book beautifully written, but it is also honest and candid in a way that many memoirs don’t quite manage. I wish I had been able to read a book like “Brave” when I was a teenager but I’m thankful that so many young people now have the option. There are trigger warnings included at the front of the book and there’s an additional warning located before a particularly challenging chapter. Thank you, Simon Pulse and Shaun Hutchinson for including those.
Depression speaks. It screams. It’s not like actually hearing voices. I know the voice in my head isn’t real and I know that it’s lying, but knowing those thins doesnt’ make it go away. I still hear it, and it dredges up my worst fears and yells them at me until it drowns otu everything else. I eventually learned how to mute that voice, but back then I had no idea how to lower the volume. – Brave Face
Thank you, Shaun. This book is a gift.
The warnings bit: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: suicidal ideation, attempted suicide, self-harm, sexual assault, homophobia, depression