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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Night Shift, written and illustrated by Debi Gliori. Razorbill, Penguin. 2017. $18.99 ages 13 and up

"Chin up.

If at first you
don't succeed,
try, try again.

Pull yourself

Get a grip"

In this tiny book with a big message, Debi Gliori speaks to an adolescent audience, and to adults as well. It is a much needed, and openly honest, look at depression and the overwhelming weight of it. Throughout the uncluttered text, she never gives it a name.

The young girl describes it with candor and fear.

"Night after night,
I was diminished.

I awoke every night
afraid of something
I couldn't see."

Words escape her; she cannot begin to describe the hurt, the worry, the overwhelming sense of losing herself. Wanting to help, others offer words meant to encourage her to find a way forward ... easier said than done. Finally, trying to outrun her demons and sure that she has failed miserably, a tiny ray of hope appears and shifts her focus.

In black and white charcoal artwork, and using a dragon to represent the overwhelming burden the child faces, the reader is witness to the battle she wages and the night skills learned to give her strength.
With mental health finally getting the attention it deserves, and hopefully the understanding, this powerful book has a big impact. Ms. Gliori hopes that those who read it will be set on a path toward
tolerance and compassion for those who too often suffer in silence. This book might just be the light at the end of a long tunnel for someone dealing with anxiety and depression, letting them know they are not alone.

Her author's note begins with this paragraph:

"This book is the result of spending most of my adult life living through periods
of depressive illness. Some of these have been severe enough to warrant medical
intervention, others have eventually responded to counseling, and sometimes I have
simply hung on and waited to become well again."

Those who suffer will recognize themselves in her words.

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