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Just Finished, Up Next

When I started this column, Just Finished, Up Next, my intention was to highlight books related to all aspects of mental health. I planned to share and discuss the inspiration contained therein and highlight effective ways to use the advice to help ourselves and our loved ones. A good plan, I think, and one I want to follow through on.

But here's the thing:  I love to read. I LOVE to read and I try to read just about everything and anything I can get my hands on. Much of what I read is not related to mental health although it is fun, enlightening, educational, thought-provoking, and generally worth letting you know about. So.

Henceforth, I plan to share with you a wider variety of books, books I love for all sorts of different reasons including but not limited to mental health concerns.

Up first, the book I Just Finished:  Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith.

I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Tam in McClure, PA at Beth Kephart's first Juncture Workshop. Here's a key to knowing Tam. In the five days we spent together on the farm, she didn't share with us that she was a published author. If memory serves, once we all returned home and became Facebook friends, I saw a post about a trip she took to an elementary school to discuss her book. What?, I thought. Tam wrote a book? And I veered over to Amazon to purchase it forthwith. Tam, if I wasn't clear, is the kind of person who won't blow her own horn; she's that modest. (So I will.) She is kind, compassionate, caring, down-to-earth, and wise–all of which shines through in the pages of her story.

Another Kind of Hurricane, a novel written for ages 9-12, thoroughly engaged me. The two main characters, Zavion and Henry, are as different as can be. They come from different cultures, live in different parts of the country, and have different points of view on what it's like to be a kid living in difficult circumstances. One experiences loss due to a natural disaster. One experiences loss due to a tragic accident.

This is a story of pain, of death and loss and despair. And it's a story of hope, of resilience and determination and friendship. These two boys, through fate's tireless effort, meet. In coming together, they find the strength to heal. This story speaks to me deeply because I experienced first-hand the power that lies in "falling apart." I know about befores and afters. (Read more here.) And I know, for sure, that putting the pieces back together can't be effectively accomplished in a vacuum, in solitude. 

In the years following my daughter's diagnosis and our journey into healing, I have learned how to value the power of connection, learned how to reach out, and have had to learn how to receive. Tam's story of two ten year old boys connected by forces and events they can't understand reminds me that we will always be stronger together than we could ever be apart.

I hope you'll check it out for yourself or your favorite 9-12 year old.      

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Up Next: Hillbilly Elegy a memoir by J.D. Vance. We're reading this for my book club, and I'm very excited to discuss it with my cohorts and with anyone here who'd like to engage in a thoughtful discussion. It was picked with the hope that Vance's story can help to clarify our current state of affairs, both politically and interpersonally. 

And here's a few more titles I read over the last several months. If you'd like to know more about any of these books, ask away.   

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