Sometimes, after finishing a book, I sit back, close my eyes, and consider what I’ve just been privileged to experience. Save-My-Life School by Natalie Harris is one of those times… and I’m still feeling goose-bumpy.
I was asked to review this book… and let’s start right there. For some reason, Canada’s Wintertickle Press (winterticklepress.com) has chosen me to look at some of the works of art they produce. The first was an anthology in January of this year (Brainstorm Revolution) and this is the second. I have a third in the wings.
HOW’D I GET SO BLESSED?
This is – truly – something special. You see, I too am an author… though in my case (so far!) it’s a middle-grade chapter book… and I’m waiting to hear back from publishers. I cannot imagine sending my little gem to just anyone! I want it to be someone who cares and will treat it with the respect it deserves. So, I study publishers and don’t just send it out willy-nilly. I’m guessing that Wintertickle Press doesn’t either.
And so, I create space for the books that are sent to me. And I cherish them simply for the fact that I am entrusted with them.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean I’m biased in my reviews. If I really disliked (or hated!) a book, you’d know about it. But respectfully.
Now, about Save-My-Life School … and I suppose I should begin with a trigger warning. If you read this book – and I highly recommend it to all who wish to! – a caution: there are details of drug and alcohol abuse, suicide ideation and attempts, and murder, along with in-depth discussions of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
The book itself is inviting with a lovely muted matte cover and those cut pages I love so much. These things matter! If a book is ugly, who will pick it up, you know? This one has a portrait of Harris looking out a sunlit window… and the sun is streaming back in on her face. It’s just neat.
Harris is an engaging and incredibly vulnerable writer who carries you through her journey from the freshman days of class to graduate “School” and beyond… and there is always beyond! Hope lives here! In fact, she says it’s one of the differences between this journal and all the others before it… hope!
The book is a combination of blogging, journaling, reflections and letters… to her dog, no less. Oh my gosh, could I love this more? No. No, I couldn’t.
A little history: Harris is a first responder who meets someone she saved in her first day of “classes”… and this opens yet another door of consideration: How is it that she was saving others when she needed saving herself? Going deeper: She is a woman who has seen some things and held them in her heart and soul, which gives her empathy… and PTSD.
Her writing style is very much like mine. So are her thoughts… and words. Consider this:
I’ve had a few people tell me they love my writing, but they couldn’t do the same – put it all out there into the webosphere.
Did Harris write that sentence… or did I? LOL (It was Harris – and me, since I know I’ve said the same darned thing more than once!)
However, no two mental health issues are exactly alike and certainly, what Harris has seen and lived through in her life as a paramedic is beyond what I can comprehend. In fact, the situation that is a catalyst for this “School” is horrific. I’ll let her explain in her own words. Oh, not here! You have to buy the book and read it!
In the Afterward, we learn that Harris is an advocate for a provincial bill specific to First Responders. About time, I’d say.
In closing, I’d like to share a few articles I found about Harris, as I researched to write this blog post (you know I always do!).
Note: Until the end of the book, she is trying to decide when to go back to work. Indeed, she did… but it caused a relapse. She decided that it wasn’t emotionally or mentally safe for her to do so.