Review Detail

Young Adult Nonfiction 1012
A Semicolon Anthology
Overall rating 
 
3.5
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
"Stay Strong. Love endlessly. Change lives." --Amy Bleuel

This suicide and mental illness awareness collection is made up of both survival testimonials and memorial accounts of those enduring the pain of a lost loved one. The range of writing length and ability here is widely variable. Some have contributed as little as a small paragraph—and some up to 3 full pages. Accompanying most of these stories is a picture of each author’s semicolon tattoo. (This being in reference to international movement that has adopted the symbol.)

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life,” explains Project Semicolon’s website.

To be clear up front, I chose this book for review because The Semicolon Project has meant a great deal to me. It’s a supportive, affirming community I would have loved to see available when I was still an early-to-mid teenager—in a very vulnerable and precarious state of mental health. Its message is one I endorse wholeheartedly. So much so, over a year ago I received a semicolon tattoo on my left hand to remind myself and to stand in solidarity. I share this to put in better context what I mean when I say I sincerely wish I had been able to give this collection a higher rating.

I’m afraid I have to concur with those who've pointed out there's not a lot of "hope" to be found in many of these stories. Most do try to wrap up on a positive-sounding note. But there's often just a sentence at the end that sounds like a "hang-in-there" pep talk, without really offering a how-to in that regard. Some close with merely an "I'm still alive" sort of observation. I don't want to diminish anyone's struggle—please don't misunderstand. But I have to wonder if many of these stories weren't a bit premature in their public release.

Even the founder of the Semi-Colon Project, Amy Bleuel, had an incomplete-feeling story (which she shares at the very beginning of the compilation.) In it she alludes to the physical, mental, and emotional abuse she suffered at the hands of her step-mother--after her parents divorced and she chose to live with her father at age 6. At age 8 she attempted to physically defend herself from her stepmother and was taken away, placed in the juvenile justice system. Her biological mother was the one who came for her. She then spent age 13-18 within the Wisconsin juvenile justice system. Yet, she dedicated the Semi-Colon Project and this book to her father—who killed himself while she was still a teenager (further adding to her trauma.) I’ve read her account several times, but am still perplexed as to why she chose to bestow such honor on the man who married an abusive woman and who, from what few details we’re given, seems to have failed to protect his daughter. I’m certain there must be more to her story that could help me understand. But whatever that information may be, it’s not offered in the current incarnation of her autobiographical essay.

-----------------
Content Notes:

*The language use is sometimes raw, but well within context rather than gratuitous.
*There’s such a heartbreaking consistency to so many of these stories—histories of devastating childhood abuse, and of rape-induced trauma. While the details are kept mercifully vague, many of these accounts are still likely to be triggering for those who haven’t yet reached a stable place in their journey toward healing.
*For a large swath of those who seemed to be writing from a “good place,” finding a supportive significant other is marked as the turning point in their personal battle. I’m concerned this crediting may inadvertently serve to encourage more impressionable young readers into seeking out romantic relationships steeped in codependency.
*I'm dismayed at the reviewers who’ve rated this collection poorly because they didn't wish to encounter any stories of struggle or overcoming that make mention of personal faith. For the record, maybe 1/6 accounts allude to a belief in any form of "higher-power," and for the vast majority of those, it's a simple one-sentence nod of acknowledgement.
-------------------

I did want to take a moment to recognize the stories that felt particularly complete, and/or struck me personally as impactful: Jana A., Lisa A., K.T., Cassidy F., Aaron P., Rebecca H., and Kevin S. -- For whatever reason, their writing and conveyance resonated enough to make this reader want to dog-ear. Most contributors, I'm sure, wrote bravely for a cathartic outlet. But these I’ve listed... I wish my younger self had been able to read their works.

Favorite Quote:

"Sometimes, I feel like a dung beetle.
(I kno, but hear me out.)
What starts out as the tiniest piece of crap gets rolled around in my mind until it's the biggest load of bullshit ever. Sometimes, this accidentally rolls over other people and ruins relationships, but mostly, it stops me from being able to see my way forward." --Kevin. S.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

Latest Book Listings Added

Awesome Dog 5000 (#1)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Marty, Ralph, and Skyler might make the ultimate secret combo...
Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis' Fleet-of-Foot Girl
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Althea Gibson was the quickest, tallest, most fearless athlete in...
The Big Game
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Danny Owens is dedicating his seventh-grade season to his Super...
Race to the Sun
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect...
Suffragette: The Battle for Equality
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Imprisonment, hunger strikes, suffrajitsu — the decades-long fight for women’s...
Catherine's War
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A magnificent narrative inspired by a true survival story that...
Dangerous Alliance
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older...
Dugout: The Zombie Steals Home
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Twins Stacy and Gina Cavallaro are on rival little league...
The Fountains of Silence
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco...
Dinosnores (Boynton on Board)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
“Honk SHOOOOOO! Honk SHOOOOOO! . . .” ...
Good Day, Good Night
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Now in a sturdy board book format, perfect for little...
TBH, This May Be TMI (TBH, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Told entirely in text messages, the second book in this...

Latest Member Reviews

Blue Is for Nightmares (Blue Is for Nightmares #1)
 
4.0
"Reader reviewed by Lilibeth It begins with the nightmares. Trying to decipher what they mean, besides the obvious. That her..."
Blue Is for Nightmares (Blue Is for Nightmares #1)
 
4.0
"Reader reviewed by Crimin Stacey Brown is not your normal teenager.  She casts spells of protection and remembrance, can predict..."
Blue Is for Nightmares (Blue Is for Nightmares #1)
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by Baby B Yo! THIS BOOK IZ SO AWESOME!! I LOVED IT! ONCE I STARTED READING IT I..."
Blue Is for Nightmares (Blue Is for Nightmares #1)
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by sammie this was an absolutely amazing book! i could so relate to the characters and to..."
Blue Is for Nightmares (Blue Is for Nightmares #1)
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by the book muncher Stacey has been having nightmares. But these arent your everyday monster-under-the-bed dreams; these are..."
Blue Is for Nightmares (Blue Is for Nightmares #1)
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by katie I LLLLLLLOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVEEEE this book! it was so hard to put down because of..."
Blue Is for Nightmares (Blue Is for Nightmares #1)
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by Kris Any fan of Charmed will love this series. the Blue is for Nightmares series (Blue is..."
Blue Is for Nightmares (Blue Is for Nightmares #1)
 
4.0
"Reader reviewed by bria This book was recommended to me by my friend but i wasnt sure that it was..."
Blue Is for Nightmares (Blue Is for Nightmares #1)
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by Tallie I have to say that aside from the Harry Potter series, this is the best one..."
Blue Is for Nightmares (Blue Is for Nightmares #1)
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by Mandy Joan I got so mad at Drea when she blurted out Stacy's secret!!! She had no..."
Blue Is for Nightmares (Blue Is for Nightmares #1)
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by Nis Me and my friends love this book and the series. It is very mysterious and..."
Blue Is for Nightmares (Blue Is for Nightmares #1)
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by Leah Stacey is a girl going to boarding school, she practices the art of..."