Now, in starting this blog, I vowed (in my mind) to give readers a variety of books to choose from and give honest reviews. The book I’m about to review definitely fits with the title of my blog in that it is a book that isn’t boring, but I think maybe the topic was such a downer, I couldn’t really love it. I liked this book a lot and from a psychological standpoint, I loved learning about the inner-workings of the human mind, especially one that is depressed enough to attempt or succeed in committing suicide. (I sound like a psycho. I don’t LOVE what they did or attempt or that they were depressed. I find it interesting and sad. I like books that depress me, okay? Don’t judge. Sorry I’m not sorry.)
The author, Jill Bialosky, had a younger sister who killed herself at the age of 21. She is quite a bit older than her sister (Kim) and is devastated by her death. From Jill’s own words,
“Kim’s suicide has forever altered the way in which I respond to the world around me. It has transformed the way I think and feel about intimacy, motherhood, friendship, and ones responsibilities to others. Her early death changed every preconceived idea I had of suicide, depression, suffering, parenthood, and our debt to another person. Before Kim ended her life, I thought, like most people, that someone who would take his or her own life was somehow different from the rest of us. I was wrong.”
That passage in the intro to the book explains this book perfectly. Jill poetically spells out her journey in attempting to understand why her sister did what she thought she had to do. She sees psychologists, researches suicide and faces her own guilt that she was not able to save her sister. She transcribes passages from Kim’s diary that lets the readers into her sister’s mind. She shares her own poetry and poetry of others to better explain how she as a survivor feels. I do know a fair amount about depression and suicide, but Jill definitely gave me a lot to think about. You may not be able to ever truly know a person, or ever save them if they don’t want to be saved. That’s a hard thing to realize.
I think this book was hard for me to love because of the content, naturally and as previously mentioned, but also because the whole time I just wished for Kim’s death to be an accident. She gets in a fight with her boyfriend and locks herself in her garage, car running. She leaves a suicide note. But part of me just can’t let go of the possibility that maybe she just fell asleep. She was drunk and high. Maybe she wanted to go and just got tired? Maybe that’s all suicide ever is. You want to go somewhere and you just get tired, but a different kind of tired. You learn in the book that not all attempted suicides or successful suicides are planned for a long time – it’s like the person just snaps and realizes that it’s what they want to do. That is so sad to me. There’s no way for someone to help or intervene.
I don’t have much more to say about this book and I feel weird trying to be funny about such a sensitive topic, so I’ll leave this review short but sweet. (Sweet? Maybe short but bittersweet.) This book is a great read. Like I said, I won’t lie, I did not love this book, but I did like it and it’s great enough to make it to my blog so that counts for a lot. To me. And it should to you, too. If you’re interested in psychology at all, you’ll like or maybe even love this book. If you’re interested in the bond of family at all, you’ll like or maybe even love this book. If you’re interested in mysteries, you’ll probably like this book. I feel that it’s a huge mystery that may never be solved. So I guess if you’re interested in Unsolved Mysteries, this one’s for you. That’s not a joke. Go read this book!
I need to include something happy now after such a sad topic. Here’s a video that makes me cry with laughter every time I watch it. There’s a lot of swearing, so if that offends you, you’re fucking out of luck. Maybe there’s a bleeped version. But watch this if you love cats just as much as I do.