Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern

You want to read this book. No, seriously. You do.

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!

55 comments:

  1. As a normal girl who's been dealing with depression and anxiety for a long time, I'm very excited to see a book that addresses mental disorders in a hearwarming way. I HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK! :D

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  2. This sounds like a lovely, heartwarming book. Putting it on my TBR list whether or not I win! :)

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  3. Ugh, WHY is this banned? I would love to win it. I have suffered from depression and anxiety, and those fun, fun things called panic attacks, since I was a kid, and apart from that I am a completely normal person (mostly) with no hidden trauma. This book sounds awesome.

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  4. That's a great review.

    It's good to see someone tackling mental health issues like this - and even writing a funny book! I think that opinions are gradually changing but far too slowly.

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  5. This sounds like a great read and I can't believe it's banned. Great giveaway!

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  6. Reminds me of the commercials I've been seeing for that new Emma Roberts movie, It's Kind of a Funny Story?

    Anyway, props to Julie Halpern for writing this story (and so successfully, it would seem). Props to you, Natalie, for being a proponent. And props to everyone dealing with depression/anxiety. You're not "weird," and you're not alone.

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  7. Sounds like a good read! Can't wait to pick it up.

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  8. Given that mental disorders are so common it is surprising that more people don't understand them better. I think sometimes it is hardest to see the things closest to us. Maybe instead of banning books we could create a 'rating' system? That way parents would be aware of any potential concerns but we wouldn't be banning books.

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  9. That sounds like such a great read! Thanks for the recommendation.

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  10. Sierra-you're a genius (no, seriously, I know her in real life and she really is). Why don't books have a ratings system a la video games? I think that would calm down a lot of raging book-banners.

    Also, I totally agree with what j.leigh.bailey said. I've suffered from panic attacks my whole life, and I have a very loving family. I totally want to go check this book out!

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  11. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  12. Awesome - sounds like an amazing book :)

    Sigh. I think book-banners routinely miss the point of a book in their quest to make sure everything is sanitized to their liking.

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  13. ooh this sounds great! I'll have to add to my list of books to buy

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  14. Would love to read this. I relate to a lot of what you wrote. Seriously. I think this would be wonderful.

    Curious what "banned" refers to? A lot of books have profanity,,,why banned?

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  15. I finally read Wild Nerd Yonder (on your reccomendation) and I absolutely LOVED it. I immediately went to see what other books Julie had written and saw this one. It went right on my wish list. Depression and anxiety also run in my family, so I was really looking forward to reading this.

    I'm so glad you posted a review. It makes me so sad and angry to see narrow minded people who try to ban books. Especially a book like this that has the potential to do so much good.

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  16. Theemptynutjar, "banned" refers to a process in which a party can issue a complaint at a library or school to have the book removed from shelves.

    This is called "a challenge." Once the challenge is issued, usually a board reviews the material and then determines whether or not the book stays.

    In many cases, the book does stay. Many books have been challenged—even Harry Potter and Twilight, even classics like Catcher In The Rye and To Kill A Mockingbird.

    I follow Julie's blog, and in one case the challenge fell through and her book stayed in the school library. But in another case, her book was removed. Aka: Banned.

    It's really sad. This book is so fun, and when it comes to books on this issue it's actually fairly clean! Yes, there's the f-word, but seriously other than that it's pretty tame.

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  17. Book banning always boggles my mind. How can people think that by banning a book, a problem no longer exists? "La la la, can't hear you..."

    That said, this book sounds great. I'm quite familiar with depression, anxiety, and OCD and it runs in my family as well. A book that features humor and depression sounds kind of like a family reunion.

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  18. Sounds really cool. Really different. Thanks for the contest!

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  19. It sounds amazing and super important, I'm off to add it to my MUST READ book

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  20. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the review, Natalie, and the fabulous contest, of course.

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  21. Yes! I knew I'd read this one. Sheesh, it was banned!? It's amazing me this week to find out all the books that have been banned. There are a lot of things I don't approve of and prefer not to read in literature, but honestly there's no grounds in this country for banning... no grounds at all.

    I don't remember Get Well Soon being totally clean (f-bombs like you said, maybe some other minor stuff? It's been a while) but this is another one, like Speak, that makes no sense to me... *shakes head*

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  22. Sounds good. And book banning still boggles my mind.

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  23. I've heard great things about this one! Love the cover--brilliant.

    sf

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  24. This sounds like an amazing book. There are so many misconceptions about mental illness out there. I, myself, had to go to the hospital for a few days after the birth of my second son because I had such severe post partum depression with anxiety. I was basically having an anxiety/panic attack 24/7 for weeks... and weeks... It was Hell on earth. Mine had a trigger, and it eventually got better (mostly, though I still have some lingering anxiety at times), but I now have so much more respect for those who live with such a difficult disease all the time.

    I'd love to read this book. THanks for the review and giveaway.

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  25. Wow, I so agree that having a book about depression that doesn't come with a trigger is immensely important. All the people I know who suffer from it have had fine lives, nothing they could blame their sadness on- and they hated themselves. So Ahem. Yes. I approve of this book. I hope I win it but otherwise I'm going to buy it. :D

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  26. Count me in! Thank you for the giveaway and for the review. It sounds like a fabulous AND important book. If I don't win it, I'll buy it.

    One thing I wonder is why the book hasn't gotten more press (or have I just not seen it?). This is really an issue for our times. We see lots of stories about kids with ADD, but almost none on depression and anxiety.

    I myself have GAD, so I know what to look for in my own kids, but it's about time that people realized that depression and anxiety are MEDICAL problems as well as psychological.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading the book one way or another.

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  27. If anyone thinks that by banning this book, teens won't use the f-word, they are sadly mistaken! Lol!

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  28. I don't have anything brilliant to say, but I want to be entered to win the book. I have a roommate who suffers from depression, and I'm not gonna, lie - I don't understand her. Sometimes I even have ignorant thoughts, like "why are you stressing yourself out so much?". My thought is that if I read this book it will help me to understand her better and then maybe I can give it to her to read :) Thanks for giving it away!

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  29. I didn't realize how much my life was affected by anxiety until I thought I was having a heart attack at age 31. Turns out I wasn't, but my body was sending me into panic attack mode.

    In short, this book sounds like something I should have read a long time ago.

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  30. I marked this book to-read on Goodreads after I read this post! (That's the only way I'm able to remember what books I want to read, lol.)

    This book looks SO good, and I'm surprised I haven't heard of it earlier.

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  31. Sigh. Banned Books Week keeps making me angry. Don't book banners actually read?

    Yeah I'll enter the contest :-)

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  32. sounds good...I love a good contest, and a good book.

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  33. I'm hooked. This is up, like, nine out of my ten alleys.

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  34. Loved Julie Halpern's Into The Wild Nerd Yonder, along with every other book I've read that you've recommended. So…yes, please! I'd love to win this. And if I don't, I'll read it anyway. :)

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  35. I need to read this book ASAP! It's been on my list since I read Into The Wild Nerd Yonder a couple of months ago. Thanks for doing this giveaway!

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  36. Your review made me even more interested to read this book. It's too bad that it was banned, but then again some of the best books in history have ended up on the banned list.

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  37. So what you're saying is REAL people have REAL problems, right? And it's refreshing to read about REAL people, since few of us are actually "normal'. :) Thanks for the review--I'm readin' it.

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  38. Thanks for letting me know about this book. It sounds amazing. I'll definitely have to add it to my list.

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  39. I'm bipolar. And the only non-YA book I want to write is about being bipolar. Not that YA doesn't need bipolar books too, but the story in my head is not YA.

    Julie Halpern is AWESOME! INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER was an education for me.

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  40. Oh, I'm SO putting this on my to-read list! It sounds awesome! Thanks for the fantastic recommendation.

    *stabs book banners*

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  41. As someone who has depression, I want to read this book after reading your review of it. I hate that books are banned for such insignificant things - get some prospective people!

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  42. This is now on my TBR list -- sounds amazing (and very important). Thanks for the contest.

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  43. I have to say I haven't heard of this yet but I am intrigued. My husband has anxiety and after many sessions has been able to curb some of it's influence in his/our life. It's amazing how debilitating it can be (and how much it affected me, when we didnt realize at first what was happening). I'm totally interested in finding out more about this story. :)

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  44. i'd had INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER recommended to me three times before i finally sat down and read it. as soon as i finished it, i read it again. it's that good.

    i'm a complete convert into the Julie Halpern fangirl club. i can't wait to read Julie's take on this subject.

    and as a "normal" girl who has experienced her own share of depression and anxiety, i think this book should be promoted, not banned.

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  45. Me me me! I am banned from buying books right now, but surely my husband can't complain if I *win* them...

    Also, I love this idea so, so much. Depression doesn't always have a "why", and it's important for teens (and adults) to know that.

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  46. Awesome review, I would love to win this book. :)

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  47. Thank you for reviewing this-- I hadn't heard of it and it sounds great! I would love to win, and if not, it is definitely going on my To Buy List :-)
    rachel harris 1 at gmail dot com

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  48. Seems like a truly good book. Will have to buy it after I don't win it :-)

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  49. This sounds really great, I've only ever seen one other YA book about depression and I have to admit that I didn't like it as...it was depressing. Definitely interested in this one and will be looking it up! Thanks for the contest :)

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  50. I would love to win this. I still haven't read NERD yet, but it's on my list!

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  51. If I win, it would arrive just in time for me to read as I recover from knee surgery. [unabashedly plays sympathy card]. Thanks for the giveaway, Natalie! Enjoy your nomad-ish-ness! This writing journey isn't like anything else, eh?

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  52. Thanks for writing about this book, Natalie! I have added it to the top of my TO READ list. These posts where you recommend books are among my favorites :)

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  53. This is a book I could use to give to my wife who has been fighting depression for a few years now. I can't seem to get her to anything about it, maybe this book could.

    Thanks for running a contest.

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