Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern
If you've read this blog for a while, you know that I'm a huge, squealing fangirl of Julie Halpern. Into The Wild Nerd Yonder is one of my favorite books. And now that I'm finally done with edits on my WIP, I grabbed Get Well Soon to read for Banned Books Week.
Yes, Julie has been BANNED (and challenged). So rebel, right? Also really annoying, because now having read it I am flaming raging mad that anyone could completely miss the point of this amazing little book.
So this is the part where I gush about the importance of this novel. Because it's important, guys, very, very important.
Get Well Soon is about a girl named Anna Bloom who gets sent to a mental hospital for depression. During her stay, she meets a host of surprisingly normal teens (you know, despite the hearing voices and pretend babies and seizures), endures incredibly strange rules and farting chairs, and learns that maybe she is much stronger and prettier than she ever imagined. Also, there is a cute boy. A very cute boy.
And it's FUNNY. It is a funny novel about depression, which is freaking brilliant, because what depressed person wants to read about how depressing it is to be depressed?
I majorly adored this novel because Anna is a NORMAL girl with depression. She has two parents and a sweet little sister. She has friends (though not as many as she thinks she should have). She is pretty (though she has body image issues and thinks she's fat). She likes music and posters plastering her bedroom.
She also has panic attacks about being teased. She also tries to hide how hard it is to deal with anxiety, and thus has a lot of anxiety ABOUT having panic attacks. Been. There.
It touched my heart because Julie painted Anna perfectly. I know because I have much anxiety in my family, an issue often accompanied by depression. And having been so close to it for so long (and experiencing some of it myself), I rejoiced in seeing a depiction of depression where the main character hadn't had some horrific, traumatic experience!
"Normal" people experience psychological disorders. "Normal" people with good lives and love and money and happiness can experience depression and anxiety. I think there are a lot of misconceptions that there has to be a trigger, but that is not the case! It is a chemical imbalance that can hit even the most "perfect" looking person, and sometimes I wonder if "normal" people don't get help because they feel ashamed. They should be happy. They have a good life! And yet they are sad—more than sad. Hollow.
Normal people suffering from psychological disorders can get help, too, should get help. Anna shows that it is nothing to be ashamed of, that you don't have to be abused, etc. to be suffering mentally.
Julie's Get Well Soon normalized psychological disorders in an amazing, heartwarming way. As someone who is familiar with depression and anxiety, I can't tell you how frustrating it is to see mental illness treated like it's not real or worse, like it makes a person totally crazy and on the verge of "losing it" at any second.
My sister, who was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder around 7 years old, has been teased about her behaviors. It has been quite the experience trying to educate others about anxiety, as if it's this strange foreign thing when it's one of the most prevalent mental hurdles out there!
Get Well Soon opens the doors to what it's like to be in a mental hospital—which I think is an important read for anyone. I admit to thinking it's a "scary" place to be before reading, but the way Julie portrayed Anna's hospital was not only funny but educational. It taught me that the people there shouldn't be feared or treated any different. It encouraged me not to be afraid of seeking that kind of help if I ever need it.
This book has been banned for dropping the f-bomb, as far as I can see, and it's such a shame that this is all those people can see! The point of this book is to help others understand what it's like to suffer from psychological issues, to normalize it, to show that it's OKAY.
Get Well Soon is a healing book. It reminded me that despite all the anxiety I feel I can continue to fight it, I can live a "normal" life and be happy. It taught me compassion for those struggling mentally, and it made me laugh and smile on top of all that.
I highly recommend it. I recommend it so much that I'm giving it away right now! Yes, the only books I've given away on my blog have been Julie's. Like I said, I'm a HUGE FAN, and she really deserves more credit and attention for her fabulous books.
To enter, just leave a comment! I will choose a winner randomly on Thursday, September 30.
UPDATE: The lovely Julie Halpern has offered to give away an audio book of Get Well Soon as well! That means there will be TWO winners. One for the book and one for the audio! Woot!
Happy Banned Books Week!