All Booked

Hi Book Lovers!

Time for another review.


When Elephants Fly

When Elephants Fly
By Nancy Richardson Fischer
Release Date: September 4th, 2018 by Harlequin Teen
Pages: 400 pages
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5/5)
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: E-Book


To start, I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Secondly, there are a few potential triggers for anyone tirelessly working through mental health challenges: abuse, suicide, and schizophrenia.

 

Book Synopsis:

Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she’s not developing schizophrenia. Genetics are not on Lily’s side.

When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily’s odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there’s a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests.

But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can’t abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf’s life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.


Favorite Quotes:

“Crazy is genetic. It’s the house I was born inside. There are no windows, just two locked doors. One door leads to Normal, the other to Insanity. At some point, I will inherit a key, but I don’t get to pick which door it unlocks. Even if I did, there’s no guarantee I’d understand the choice, or realize where I was when I got there.”

“I hold my breath, frozen like a soldier who has stepped on a land mine. But no matter what I do, eventually it’s going to blow me up.”

“I had the urge to tell her that there’s a relief when you no longer have to prove to the most important person in your life that you’re worthy.”

“The one certainty in life is that it changes.”

“It’s impossible to bend crazy to your will. It wins, hands down.”


My thoughts:

This book hooked me from the beginning and I soon found myself unable to complete any real-life tasks to continue reading Lily’s story. Lily comes from a genetic line predisposed to schizophrenia. After almost losing her own life due to her mother succumbing to her own delusions, Lily grows up hoping to beat the odds of something she cannot see coming. She has a long-term plan of no stress (or fun of any kind) in order to come out, hopefully, free of the same mental illness that’s been plaguing the woman in her family for several generations.

However, Lily begins volunteering, and eventually writing small stories for the local newspaper in her town. Her story on the local zoo preparing for a new elephant calf, soon named Swifty, leads her on an unexpected journey after Swifty’s mother tries to kill her shortly after birth.

Lily is quite the character. She’s slightly infuriating. She’s slightly too calm and laid back. She’s slightly avoiding truly living life. Yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about how fearful I would be if I were her knowing that there was a strong possibility I would find myself drowning in a sea of mental illness that I couldn’t avoid. While I do not struggle from schizophrenia nor personally know anyone who does, my heart ached to see the way this illness can suck the life of anyone it goes after. To hope for a life you are pretty sure will not play out as you’d hope would probably make me just as cautious and anxious as Lily was for most of this story.

Her best friend, Sawyer, was a wonderful character, although this idea he was ridiculously rich wasn’t something I bought into for the majority of the story. Sawyer also harbors secrets of his own and it becomes clear in understanding the superbly adorable to the friendship Lily and Sawyer have created over their own internal struggles through the years.

This story also had another hot topic in it for me: elephants. I’ve read several stories about elephants in the past that discuss their depth of emotion and how they typically act in the wild. Sometimes those ideas are hard to listen to and this story does touch on several instances of animal abuse which were hard to stomach through for myself. Still, the elephant’s stories are just as important here and only added to the tugging on my heart.

I enjoyed almost everything about this story: the mental health representation which I do not think we see nearly enough in YA (or any other genre), the elephants, the friendship, but most importantly the decision between living your life or letting your life control you. Is it better to take risks that might not let you live as yourself as long as you’d like? Or is it better to play it safe and hope to peacefully ride out the waves without creating any yourself?

There were only a few pieces of the story I did not enjoy as much: Lily just up and leaving out of the blue for a story, her selfishness during some of Sawyer’s personal problems arising, and her initial carelessness at how her life affected other people’s (such as Swifty). Lastly, the odd way the story ended wasn’t necessarily bad, but it kept taking odd turns I wasn’t expecting and with people I wasn’t expecting. Also, without saying what it is, the final piece of Lily’s puzzle at the end really tore me apart for a few days after finishing. I non-stop thought about mental health and how I choose to live my life, even without the battles Lily faces.

I’d highly recommend this story to just about everyone: it isn’t a perfect, happy story, but it is something that should be thought and talked about more often.

  • Has anyone else read this book?
  • What were your thoughts on this story?
  • What did you think of the mental health topic in this book?

♥♥

Hi Book Lovers!

I was lucky enough to receive this book on Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review. Let’s talk about this emotional roller-coaster ride.

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Ohpikiihaakan-ohpihmeh (Raised Somewhere Else)
By: Colleen Cardinal
Pages: Unknown (E-Book / no pages listed)
Genre: Nonfiction
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
Format: E-Book on Kindle

“What they didn’t see was the pain, trauma and suffering that we endured living under that roof with those people.” – Colleen Cardinal

It’s been a few days since I finished Colleen’s story. I had a lot to think about. Colleen, an Indigenous woman, grew up in the Sixties Scoop – a practice that occurred primarily in Canada where Indigenous children were taken from their families and sent to foster homes or adopted (usually by white families) in the late 1950s on. Her story is one of growing up in a family different from her own and how it snowballed into the life she created for several decades. Colleen dealt with abuses abound including mental, emotional, physical, and even sexual. Trauma can alter people in vastly different ways and this story was a look at how Colleen coped through her life (very rough, detailed patches and all) and found her way back to herself and to the people and culture she was taken from years ago.

Colleen told this story as if she were sitting across from me speaking her truths. Honestly, there were a few instances I looked up almost expecting someone to be there telling me what her words were telling me about her life. What also impressed me is how she has owned up to so many things about her past that even she admitted aren’t easy to do for many people. In that, I applauded her greatly.

“I am not perfect by any means and have hurt and been violent to other people in my past.” – Colleen Cardinal

“Like a familiar piece of luggage, I have dragged my abuse right along with me, and in many ways have taken it out on my children.” – Colleen Cardinal

Perhaps wisdom does come with age and watching Colleen’s story unravel and lead her to a place of self-discovery was inspiring, hopeful, and educational (the Sixties Scoop was yet another piece of Indigenous culture I didn’t know existed beforehand). Additionally, her extreme love for her children was something to be cherished as I read. Yes, she has made many errors in her life (which of us haven’t?), and sometimes her own desires sadly did come before her children’s desires. However, she credits them for her ability to grow and change constantly and I appreciate that as I never had a mother who loved me as much as she loves her children.

The downside to her story, for me, was certain parts felt slightly repetitive. It wasn’t necessarily overdone to a point I was irritated or annoyed, however, it did detract from the way her story unraveled when we would see her travel back a moment to re-live something already discussed. I think why this was hard for me is that Colleen’s story has a lot of emotional and rough spots in it – things I have never experienced and things I wish no one would ever have to experience. Rehashing a section that I already felt sad about was difficult the first time and sometimes I didn’t want to stomach things a second time.

This book was neither easy to read nor bursting with warm, fuzzy feelings. I cannot relate to her on many levels, yet that is why I loved her story so deeply. I have been in awe of Native American and Indigenous culture since I was around five or six and have felt that so many of their stories have been skipped over or not given a platform or opportunity to reach as many people as they should. What has happened to their lifestyles and culture has unsettled me for decades and in listening to Colleen’s story I felt proud for her and her people to finally raise a voice and put a foot down to accepting what they are told to accept. While many voices are still not heard, this story was fascinating, saddening, and hopeful. I hope it allows others like her to find their way back to their true selves and allow the rest of us to see what has happened to so many Indigenous people. Those actions cannot be taken back – history is history. Yet there is always time to change the future to be better and brighter for future generations that have been previously been wronged for so long.

“There are things you just keep on doing no matter what. You drag your ass out of bed or off the couch and you keep going because you have to, because no one is going to do it for you.” – Colleen Cardinal

This is just one of many stories that should be read by many to help further the knowledge of what has happened under the rug to so many for years upon years. Don’t assume you know the full story unless you’ve truly looked at every angle. I highly recommend reading this story for anyone interested in learning more about the Sixties Scoop and understanding what’s really happening under the stereotypes put on many Indigenous by those who do not truly understand.

 

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