Thank you to Kelly at Love Book Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour for this thought provoking book and for the digital review copy. I have read and enjoyed many of Amanda’s fiction books over the past few years, but this is the book that will stay with me for many years.
Josiah was nineteen with the world at his feet when things changed. Without warning, the new university student’s mental health deteriorated to the point that he planned his own death. His mother, bestselling author Amanda Prowse, found herself grappling for ways to help him, with no clear sense of where that could be found. This is the book they wish had been there for them during those dark times.
Josiah’s situation is not unusual: the statistics on student mental health are terrifying. And he was not the only one suffering; his family was also hijacked by his illness, watching him struggle and fearing the day he might succeed in taking his life.
In this book, Josiah and Amanda hope to give a voice to those who suffer, and to show them that help can be found. It is Josiah’s raw, at times bleak, sometimes humorous, but always honest account of what it is like to live with depression. It is Amanda’s heart-rending account of her pain at watching him suffer, speaking from the heart about a mother’s love for her child.
For anyone with depression and anyone who loves someone with depression, Amanda and Josiah have a clear message—you are not alone, and there is hope.
I’ve had the review copy sat on my Kindle for a few weeks, ready to read and review but I decided to wait until I had listened to Josh and Amanda being interviewed for a recent Reading Agency event when they were interviewed by Natasha Devon from http://www.natashadevon.com. Having heard Josh and Amanda read from their book and talk about it, I settled down to read. This was a book I didn’t want to put down and this resulted in a late night of reading.
As readers of my book review blog know, I have many books this year due to having been furloughed. However this is one of the most important books of the year, and should be read by parents, teachers and anyone working with young people. During our recent work safeguarding training, we were told that one in six young people in the UK are now said to be living with a mental health issue, exacerbated by the current global pandemic.
Thank you to Josh for being so open and articulate about what happened, how his world changed and became grey. As Josh points out, there wasn’t one major incident that caused his depression, it was a combination of events and life experiences. Thank you to Amanda for also being honest about what she and the rest of the family did or didn’t do during this time. When we have children, we tend to learn as we go, with help from family and friends and in the age of filtered Instagram families, it can be difficult to remember that few people (if any) are actually experiencing perfection. Hopefully this book will help many other families who find themselves in a similar situation.
I work with young people and this book has given me more clues about what to look out for, than any of the ‘educational’ publications I’ve read, because it is written by someone who has depression, rather than someone who works with people with depression. I lost my own brother to depression five years ago when he turned 40. I have struggled to understand why he didn’t reach out but having read Josh’s story, I now realise that he was trapped in his own grey world.
This is an emotional, well written read about a topic which many people find it difficult to talk about. As I said above, this is a book that parents and teachers should read. I will be recommending this to family and friends. Most definitely a five star read.
Josiah (Josh) Hartley lives in an isolated farmhouse in the West Country, but close enough to Bristol to enjoy its music scene. He is an animal lover and servant to two French Bulldogs. Equally happy at a music festival or watching rugby with his mates, he likes the outdoor life and with Devon only a short drive away often heads to the sea to surf and sit on the beach watching the sun go down. After a stint at the University of Southampton and another at the University of Bristol and one unsuccessful suicide attempt, Josh decided to write about his descent into mental illness and the depression that has held him in its grip for the past few years. The Boy Between carries the overriding message that things can and often do get better. It’s a book of reflection, raw, honest and full of hope: the proof being that Josh is still here and now excited about what comes next. He is ready to catch any opportunities that life throws his way, quite a thing for someone who only three years ago was living in a world gone grey, ready to disappear from the face of the earth…
Amanda Prowse likens her own life story to those she writes about in her books. After self-publishing her debut novel, Poppy Day, in 2011, she has gone on to author twenty-five novels and six novellas. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages and she regularly tops bestseller charts all over the world. Remaining true to her ethos, Amanda writes stories of ordinary women and their families who find their strength, courage and love tested in ways they never imagined. The most prolific female contemporary fiction writer in the UK, with a legion of loyal readers, she goes from strength to strength. Being crowned ‘queen of domestic drama’ by the Daily Mail was one of her finest moments. Amanda is a regular contributor on TV and radio but her first love is, and will always be, writing. This is her first work of non-fiction.