In RUNNING FOR MY LIFE, 14-year-old Andrea McKane earns medals for courage and strength from her therapist as she deals with her schizophrenic mother. I would bestow similar medals on writer AnnGonzalez for presenting Andrea's tough story with honesty, grace, hope and even humor. The crisp writing and authentic voice immediately drew me in but it was Andrea herself -- as well as her good friends -- that captured my heart. This is no "problem novel" but the frank and fearless story of a great kid who overcomes the unimaginable. I will be thinking about Andrea for a long, long time.
Kirby Larson, author of Newbery Honor Book, Hattie Big Sky
Dartheart, an organization for trauma survivors out of Dartmouth College has posted an interview with Ann Gonzalez. This is an exciting new program designed to support all persons with PTSD, and with particular emphasis on the often overlooked group of young people who have experienced trauma.
JOYCE BOAZ, GIFT FROM WITHIN, REVIEWS RUNNING FOR MY LIFE
Andrea is a high school student who has PTSD as a result of being assaulted by her schizophrenic mother during an uncontrolled psychotic episode. This new novel by
Gift From Within support pal, Ann, is a perfect book for a young person who suffers from PTSD or has experienced abuse. Fortunately for Andrea she has a wonderful dad, and a couple of very good friends who are supportive and understanding.
Her best friend introduces Andrea to running and this new hobby also serves as a wonderful coping tool for Andrea. She says in the book that the sounds of running...the shh shh shh set her free. Andrea also has a good therapist who explains at the right time that she has PTSD and not Schizophrenia as Andrea felt that perhaps she was alsosuffering from the same disease as her mom. This is an important moment for Andrea.
This book will remind you of your high school years.The author adds humor which helps because you are surrounded by the profound sadness of Andrea's life. It also carefully includes information that is very important, namely the benefits of social engagement which helps Andrea feelless isolated and at times deepens her resolve to move towards hope and resiliency. One cannot help feel Andrea's pain and and there is a scene between Andrea and her mom that is scary but it is appropriate and handled sensitively. I believe high school students will learn about mental illness and will hopefully turn this understanding into compassion and empathy. Part of Andrea’s symptoms include depression. Depression among adolescents is widespread. We cannot ignore the fact that our young people are dealing with parents and relatives and friends that suffer from a variety of mental illnesses whether caused by human cruelty, natural disasters and/or chemical imbalances.
Andrea also deals with anxiety, flashbacks, dissociation and the other sometimes overwhelming symptoms of trauma Andrea struggles with various roles, being a student trying to manage schoolwork, her few friendships, a worried Dad, and the very scary proposition of a Mom returninghome and all that entails.
I am very glad that the author showed what can occur during therapy sessions. I believe young people will feel less frightened about what a well trained trauma therapist really does. The book also teaches young people not to feel blame or inadequate about dealing with mentally ill relatives. That is not our job but we are sometimes forced to do it anyway. We are not trained or taught in school or at home what to expect in these types of circumstances. In my household we were taught to keep secrets and not talk outside the family. That doesn't work. This book sheds some light on a difficult topic with sensitivity, warmth, humor and compassion. Kudos to first time author Ann Gonzalez. I look forward to reading more novels by Ann G. Please note that this book will be available via Amazon in March