Thursday, March 17, 2016

Review: Reasons to Stay Alive

Summary: One of Entertainment Weekly‘s 25 most anticipated books of 2016—Matt Haig’s accessible and life-affirming memoir of his struggle with depression, and how his triumph over the illness taught him to live

Like nearly one in five people, Matt Haig suffers from depression. Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt’s inspiring account of how, minute by minute and day by day, he overcame the disease with the help of reading, writing, and the love of his parents and his girlfriend (and now-wife), Andrea. And eventually, he learned to appreciate life all the more for it.

Everyone’s lives are touched by mental illness: if we do not suffer from it ourselves, then we have a friend or loved one who does. Matt’s frankness about his experiences is both inspiring to those who feel daunted by depression and illuminating to those who are mystified by it. Above all, his humor and encouragement never let us lose sight of hope. Speaking as his present self to his former self in the depths of depression, Matt is adamant that the oldest cliché is the truest—there is light at the end of the tunnel. He teaches us to celebrate the small joys and moments of peace that life brings, and reminds us that there are always reasons to stay alive. -- Penguin

Over five years ago, I reviewed THE RADLEYS by Matt Haig. It was a story about a "typical" family who just happened to be vampires. I thought it was very well done and I loved that the Radley's, despite being vampires, had so much in common with "normal" families. It was a rather memorable book.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when my Entertainment Weekly magazine arrived. I have claimed for many years that EW is one of my go-to places for book recommendations. They were raving about Mr. Haig's new memoir REASONS TO STAY ALIVE, and even picked it as one of their 25 most anticipated books of 2016. This book tells the story of Mr. Haig's struggle with depression and how he has managed to get his life back on track... and even find happiness.

I'll be honest. I have never suffered from depression. I may have days or weeks where I am a little cranky or don't feel like being very social, but it is nothing even close to depression. I don't claim to even understand it, and that's one of the reasons that REASONS TO STAY ALIVE was so interesting to me. Holy moly! Mr. Haig does a remarkable job of bringing this terrible illness to life and truly explaining just how devastating it is. I had no idea the depth of desperation that someone suffering from depression experiences.

And that's just one of the reasons why I appreciated REASONS TO STAY ALIVE so much. I now have a better understanding of how horrible depression is, and for that reason alone, I think this book is extremely valuable to society.  The author was able to put into words his battle and I can only guess how many people he is speaking for.

However, REASONS TO STAY ALIVE was so much more than just a book about Mr. Haig's depression. It was a survival story and a pretty amazing one at that. With honesty, humor, and insight, Mr. Haig showed how he overcame depression and is living a productive life as a writer, father, and husband.

Overall, REASONS TO STAY LIVE is a wonderful story about hope! There is enough humor and wisdom in this story to make it an entertaining read, but there is also enough information about depression to make it a must-read book. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.


bermudaonion said...

I've never suffered from depression either but know other people who have. I love memoirs and would like to be able to understand depression more so this sounds very interesting to me.

Hillary said...

I have bipolar so I have experince with depression. I am def picking up this book to see what he has to say about it.

Kate Unger said...

I read a blog by a woman who suffers from depression, and it's so interesting. I know people who have depression or that I suspect may suffer from it. It's very insightful to read about a similar experience. I'm adding this book to my list. Great review.