It was the quotes which caught my attention and got me intrigued. After all, there are only so many sweets, pens, keyrings, stress=-balls, bags, leaflets, cards with tiny writing on them, etc, that one person can usefully collect and use in one lifetime – never mind the amount of branded junk you can pick up at events where companies attempt to grab your attention and stick in your mind – ready for when you find yourself in dire need of the service which is provided by the Company whose pen has somehow managed to roll behind your radiator, rendering their contact details useless forever more.
However, it wasn't just the fact that there was a display which was actually easy for me to read (the quotes were at the front of the table in a clear font) which caught my attention. What really grabbed me about them was that – under slightly different circumstances – they could all have been about me. As in - Every Single One Of Them.
The table I was standing in front of also had copies of a book on it. The book (“The Invisible Child – A Secret Life”, by Samantha Houghton) was being launched at the Choice UnLimited Roadshow yesterday. I had intended to go to Samantha's talk where she launched the book, but I didn't make it in the end. Instead – it turned out that I had the pleasure of meeting both Samantha and her Mum (Maureen) at their stall and getting a bit of the background to the book itself from the two delightful ladies themselves. I decided to give Maureen a namecheck in this review because – as she herself said – she lived through the situation with Samantha as she went through it (with all the self-blame, etc, that would entail). I am not exaggerating when I say that both ladies are extremely inspirational people – they are also very gentle even though they have both had to become very tough.
The book is about Samantha's battle with Mental Health issues from childhood through adolescence, into adulthood, and how she sought help (not to mention how she felt ignored and judged by many of the Professional Carers who were supposed to be the ones trying to help her).
Her style of writing reminds me of both Cathy Glass and Tory Hayden – yet more relaxed and less likely to blind you with science when she gets to the “Scientific” bits.
In fact, I read the book from cover to cover when I was on the bus from Leicester to my Dad's house. I ended up feeling as though I had gone through every experience with Samantha just through reading the book. That – to me at least – is the sign of a brilliant author or blogger. Take your readers on your journey with you – keeping it simple and jargon-free.
I must admit to being pleasantly surprised about something else regarding the book. I did my usual trick of reading a snippet of it before I bought it. This wasn't to make sure I would find it interesting (Samantha and Maureen had both “sold” the book to me before I bought it) – instead it was to check the font size. After all, there is no point buying a book (no matter how interesting the subject is) if the font is so small you need a microscope to read it, or you need to chain-eat paracetamol or aspirin, to counter the ensuing headache from trying to read it.
Apart from the “Acknowledgements” page (who reads that anyway?) the main bit of the book was not only large enough for me to read comfortably - I even think it would be easy for people who read what are officially deemed “Large Print” books to read without any difficulties.
I would seriously love it if Samantha went to “Mainstream” Publishers and showed them her book as an example of how to publish a book in such a way that everybody can enjoy the pleasure of reading without having to select books based not only on topic but on font-size too.
In case you missed it – my recommendation is that you buy this book. It doesn't matter if you have experience of Mental Health issues or any other Disability or impairment – I can guarantee you will find something useful in it. Even if it is just about how to really listen to people and pay attention to them (as well as the potential consequences if you don't).
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