Book Review: Get in my Head - Sara's Story by S. M. Holland
Writing about mental illness is no easy task, especially in young adult literature, but S. M. Holland manages to do so with finesse and sensitivity in her Get In My Head series. I read Jared's Story several months ago and enjoyed it, but for me, Sara's Story just resonated so much more. Maybe that was because I found myself able to relate to her personally, not only in regards to her experience with anxiety and depression, but also because of her background. Sara comes from a family that moves around a lot, meaning she's never able to really put down roots anywhere and her relationships and friendships are in constant upheaval. She's also a highly sensitive young woman, and with everything else her family is going through, she doesn't want to rock the boat with her own issues. Having experienced some of those same feelings myself, I felt the author did a great job of capturing that perspective. There were several lines in the book where I found myself thinking, "YES! That's exactly how it feels to be in this particular situation." Just seeing a character who so clearly represented some of the same issues I struggled with as a teenager made me feel like this was the book I needed at 15 or 16, and I'm sure there are many other young people out there for whom this book will resonate.
That being said, it's definitely not an easy story to read, nor should it be. But it is an important one, and it offers some great insight into what living with anxiety and depression can be like for a young person. The author strikes a delicate balance between portraying Sara's emotions in a way that feels accurate and poignant without venturing into melodramatic territory, which could have derailed the book's significance entirely. I don't cry at books very often, but I got a teary-eyed more than once here as I was reading about Sara's experiences. It was because of that emotional connection to the character that I kept flying through the pages as fast as I could just wanting to know what would happen next.
Although this is very much Sara's story, the other characters are fleshed out enough to feel real and three-dimensional. Their portrayal is filtered through Sara's perception of them, but it was easy enough to get a clear sense of who they were and what their motivations were, even when Sara maybe couldn't sort that all out for herself. I appreciated how integral each one of them became to Sara's journey, and having such well-developed secondary characters provided some interesting conflicts for the story that allowed Sara's character development to unfold in a natural way.
If you're looking for a story that deals with mental health issues in a realistic but sensitive way, I would highly recommend this book. Just be prepared to feel all the feelings, because there are definitely a lot here.