Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/Mental Health
This is normal.
It’s heartbreaking. And it’s true.
Being the eldest daughter in a family comes with great responsibility.
And with that responsibility comes basically taking care of the family even when we ourselves are stretched to the brink. Mentally, physically. Whatever it is. Everyone else comes first because hey, that’s what being the first born girl is all about. The glue that keeps everyone together.
I’ll say this now but this book was lovely, heartbreaking, and poignant in so many ways. It really touched me and I believe it’s because I personally could relate so much to it in terms of being the oldest daughter and having to take care of a mother who has mental and physical problems. I wasn’t prepared for the in depth read I was going to get but I am very happy for it in the end.
Anna Chiu is a high school student in Australia who has her life pretty full looking after her youngest sister, brother, and helping out at her father’s sister all while her mother stays in bed when she’s in of her “moods”.
There are tiny welcome distractions however. Such as the new delivery boy at her dad’s restaurant but even those new blossoming feelings aren’t enough to stifle the ups and downs of her home life. And the worrying feelings that everything with her mom isn’t quite right.
As the months go by and Anna grows, she learns more about herself and her family, and how she isn’t as alone as she thinks she is.
This is one of those rare, beautiful reads that you can’t put down for just a moment even though each page is like an incision to your heart. Anna’s mother clearly suffers from some sort of mental disorder and your heart aches for her and the family because they aren’t quite sure how navigate around it so they wade through it like tricky waters and it works for just awhile.
I felt for Anna. She’s so young and to have the pressure of having to take care of so many people at her age is heartbreaking. Her father runs his own restaurant which is far from where they live and he often sleeps there and while I do understand his mindset I found myself frustrtated with him as well. His daughter needed him and more importantly his family needed him And it’s scary seeing the person you love going through strife and mental instability you have to be there for them because you are the adult in this situation and your children need you there.
I loved the budding romance between Rory and Anna as well. It was sweet and Rory was somebody else who offered Anna insight into mental health and depression as he himself had a setback the year before. He was very open about who he was and he didn’t need to be because that is his business but I found that their relationship was a very organic one and I liked that he stood his ground on certain things and was like I am taking a mental health day for my sake or I am cutting toxic people off to get better. I am very open about my own mental health and healing yourself so to read a book about promoting these practices was wonderful.
I won’t spoil this book but the end to me was wonderful. It showed that life is not perfect. There are setbacks. There always will be hard times and bad days but in the end it’s how you deal with it. There are good times to come and it’s all how you deal with the outcome. Life is never easy for some reason that’s just how we were dealt. But there are resources out there for us to attempt to try and basically cheat code our way to the end of this game.
The hinges have come off the door now and bodies surge inwards.
And I scream.