On a Scale of One to Ten By Ceylan Scott

Title: On a Scale of One to Ten

Author: Ceylan Scott

Publisher: Chicken House Ltd

First Published: 3rd May 2018

Blurb:

Tamar is admitted to Lime Grove, a psychiatric hospital for teenagers. 

Lime Grove is home to a number of teenagers with a variety of problems: anorexia, bipolar disorder, behaviour issues. Tamar will come to know them all very well. But there’s one question she can’t… won’t answer: What happened to her friend Iris? As Tamar’s emotional angst becomes more and more clear to her, she’ll have to figure out a path to forgiveness. A shocking, moving, and darkly funny depiction of life in a psychiatric world. (From Goodreads, 9th April 2019).

Review:

This was a novel that I enjoyed but it was very typical of the many mental health books that I have read in the past. Tamara is admitted to a psychiatric hospital due to a suicide attempt and her self harm. Tamara is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, a very underwritten about disorder, and really the reason I was drawn to this book.

This novel focuses on the relationships Tamara creates whilst at Lime Grove. But the relationships aren’t that well developed. But when you are admitted to a psychiatric ward you are placed with individuals and don’t have long to get used to their company. You are in a world where people’s most personal thoughts are shared, so relationships do become quite deep quite quickly, or what appears to be deep. So the setting itself may be part of the issue with the lack of development of relationships and is actually quite accurate of psychiatric hospital relationships for some.

I would say that some of this novel is very on point, whilst other parts aren’t that believable. There was a lack of focus on treatment and looking at ways to change thinking and working on a better set of coping strategies, which I feel is an important aspect to novels like these. However, it is based in a hospital ward and many people do not realise that the main point of an acute psychiatric ward is to get someone stable enough so they can work on their issues outside of hospital. The hospital is to keep an individual or others safe and reach a stage that they can engage in therapy once discharged. So I feel that this was an accurate description but I feel that recovery work should be looked at in novels like these. The ending felt rushed but did focus on the concept of hope, which is possibly the most valuable part of recovery when it comes to mental health issues.

This is an own-voices novel, and therefore the author has personal experience of mental health issues and this may be accurate to how she herself felt. I felt the thoughts and feelings of Tamara really did show a real insight into the mind of an individual diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) setting was a reliable account, although I feel that some of the staff were not at all realistic, whilst others seemed pretty on point. I understand that you are going to get good and bad members of staff but I feel you are more likely to get good, some bad and some okay, and this balance was not made for me personally. But everyone has a different experience and different hospital experiences depending on the ward that an individual is admitted to so this is likely a really good representation of some wards. I think because it contrasted with my experience a bit that is why I found it difficult to relate to completely. Some parts rung true whilst others didn’t, and my own bias has probably resulted in my opinion on this.

There is also a bit of a mystery going on. What happened to Iris? And this is an intriguing plot point for the novel. And one of the reasons I liked this novel. It provides a story to follow rather than the novel being solely focused on mental health symptoms.

Overall I feel this is a book that was mixed for me, but is an account worth reading, and does depict the mind of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder well. It is in some ways very accurate, but as I have said I feel books about mental health difficulties have a responsibility to address recovery and look at things that can help. But the importance of hope, at least, was focused on.

3.5 out of 5

If I Stay By Gale Forman

Title: If I Stay

Author: Gale Forman

Publisher: Black Swan

Publication Date: January 1st 2009

Blurb:

Life can change in an instant.

A cold February morning . . . a snowy road . . . and suddenly all of Mia’s choices are gone. Except one.

As alone as she’ll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all. (From Goodreads, 17th February 2013)

Review:

If I Stay is a book that caught my eyes a few years ago but I never got around to getting it. Now I have it I am glad I did and glad I picked it up to read so soon after buying it!

Mia’s life is about to change dramatically. When a snow day is called – despite the very little snow – her parents and younger brother decide to go and visit some friends. But Mia is suddenly standing at the side of the road. Music still playing but interrupted by distant sirens.

Mia has now got a decision to make. Her body is being taken care of by doctors and nurses. Her family and friends crowed the waiting rooms. But Mia has lost so much. Should she live or die? Only she can decide.

This is a fantastic novel that shows the difficulty in making such a decision. It deals with an issue for young adults in a delicate and realistic way. Understanding and different to many other books out there. Dealing with death in a sophisticated way.

A book that will make you cry, laugh and anxiously wait to find out what Mia chooses.

4 out of 5

Cafe du Jour By Lilian Darcy

This is not the typical book I would normally pick up – mainly the cover made me think it was more of a chick-lit, light-romance novel. However I was pleasantly surprised with the layers involved in Cafe du Jour.

Susie is a chef, a girlfriend, a sister and a daughter. Her career is at a standstill as the restaurant she works at is barely scraping by. Her boyfriend of four years is always traveling and is now starting a new-age type course to help people ‘grow’, much to Susie’s annoyance. Her sister, Karen, has been in a serious motorbike accident and is in hospital receiving rehab. Her parents only see her when she is visiting her sister in hospital and they have a strained relationship with a lack of ability to share their feelings. Her boss, Julie, treats her like a daughter but can this relationship hold when the restaurant is taken over by Julies son?

There are many little stories within this book and each one has it’s own path leading to Susie’s growth and change of directions. It is written in a diary style, though it doesn’t feel like that when you are reading it, for the benefit of Karen so she can learn what was happening while she was recovering from her serious accident.

This is a nice book about ones journey in discovering who are your real friends and what really matters in life.

I will rate it 3.5 stars and describe it as a ‘pool side book’ – one for your holidays!