A moving portrayal of depression

TITLE = finding Coaby

AUTHOR = David McLean

GENRE= Mental health, Depression, Family, Family discord

INTEREST LEVEL = Years 9, 10

This is a short novel and quite a compelling read. Aeisha is struggling to cope: largely due to her depressive illness but partly, too, because of her dysfunctional family. Her parents split up acrimoniously some years ago and as the story unfolds we see that her parents are still struggling to adjust themselves; in their differing ways both her mother and father seem unable to let go of their bitterness. Unknown to Aeisha, her mother has battled an undiagnosed depression herself for some time. So her father is well aware of the signs that his daughter is exhibiting but this doesn’t mean that he finds it easy to deal with.

The strength of this novel lies in its honesty. It provides a vivid and credible account of what it must feel like to live in Ash’s shoes: we see how completely overwhelmed she feels, overwhelmed with pain and sadness and tiredness. Her inability to explain her feelings is clear, as well as her desire to understand what is happening to her. Of course, none of this is made any easier when her parents struggle to see beyond their own concerns.

This could easily have become an issue-driven novel but David McLean’s strong characterisations prevent this from happening. The characters are real and their dialogue is credible. At its heart this novel is about a teenager in pain and how she and her family must learn to cope with this.  Ash’s need for support is all too evident but finding appropriate support isn’t always easy. Even well-meaning health professionals can provide barriers to a young teen who can’t articulate her feelings. The ending of the novel provides hope but also a realistic perspective.

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Highly Recommended (dma) *****

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I am a teacher-librarian in a government school. I love reading and talking about books ... to anyone who will listen!

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