I don’t know why we read some authors and not others. I don’t know how our minds process the decision to give one book our time and not another equally interesting novel. Sometimes it’s about hype, popularity, genre, subject-matter, length, age group, familiarity with the author, mood—a lot of different factors come into play. But what I’ve learned is that it’s never too late to embark on a journey to discover a new-old author. New to us, old to the literary world.
I’m saying this because Julie Anne Peters is an established, bestselling and award-winning author who has been writing for decades. And yet, I only ‘‘discovered’’ her last month after getting my hands on Define ‘‘Normal.’’ Discovered is probably not the right word to use, just like Christopher Columbus didn’t actually ‘‘discover’’ America. It was already there and known to its populations. Maybe “coming into contact with’’ is a better way to say it. Coming into contact with Julie Anne Peters’ writing has done me a lot of good.
This particular title deals with very heavy issues, such as depression, bullying, suicide, sexual assault and abuse. The main character, Daelyn Rice, was told again and again by the people she encountered that she wasn’t good enough, skinny enough, valuable enough and that she never would be. She began to internalize those thoughts and now she doesn’t know how to cope, how to go on, how to defend herself and speak up about her struggles. So why bother being on this earth longer? In less than a month, she’ll be gone and, for the first time in who knows how long, she’ll be happy.
This is not the kind of story one should read if one feels down. It is a ‘‘low energy’’ type of story and while I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that, it’s still worth mentioning because if you’re in a bad mood or depressed yourself, this book can be a real trigger. Two months ago, this book would have triggered me for real. But today, I was able to read it and definitely connect with Daelyn, without letting it affect my mood too heavily. If you do not believe you can stomach a book such as this one right now, I recommend picking up Peters’ Define ‘‘Normal’’ instead and leaving this for when the time is right. The right time will come.
Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for a review.