“It’s my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other easily understood disease just to make it easier on me and also on them.”
When the story begins with a young boy and a young girl- with separate lives and separatestories and also separate and extremely difficult situations to deal with, findeach other while contemplating life and attempting to commit suicide – you know that it isn’t going to be an ordinary series of events thereafter.
When Theodore Finch finds Violet Markey about to take the step that he had initially thought for himself, he decides to convince her out of it. For when someone goes through something almost everyday, it’s easier to convince the other person not to follow their footsteps because they have a choice.
What initially began as a – “why are you always trying to get in touch with me, and why can’t youjust leave me alone” – kind of a situation soon blossoms into an unusual and aspecial friendship.
Violet has recently lost her sister in an accident she survived and Theo not only comes from a dysfunctional family but also deals with depression – something that his own family refuses to acknowledge. And soon, once they start getting to know each other, a series of moments to find some brightness in each others lives begin.
Anything the human race finds difficult to understand becomes “abnormal” or simply a problem. They refuse to talk about it, learn and understand it. One of those many things is different forms of illness or disease. I am not going to refer to it as mental health or physical health because the first thing we need toget our society to understand it that no matter what part of your body gets affected, it is an illness. It could be your stomach, liver, eyes, knees, brain, tail bone – anything. When its an illness, it’s an illness and it’s no one’s fault.
It’s extremely important to talk about this, to learn about it even if you’re not going through it yourself because you’ll come across someone who has an illness and you could say the wrong things, ask the wrong questions and behave wrong out ofignorance and lack of knowledge.
And that’s one of the many things Finch had to tackle in his already difficult life – ignorance – being labelled as a weirdo, a freak only because he’s different and worse – deal with something that just isn’t his fault. And it’s even more suffocating when your family just doesn’t accept it because they’re programmed by this society to be ashamed of it.
The book doesn’t exactly end happy but it’s honest and not as sugar-coated as many stories outthere. Finch is one of the strongest characters I’ve “met” because depression just isn’t easy to live with. Stomach aches or even diabetes isn’t as hard because you inject the missing enzyme to your body to help it regulate (not weighing one more than the other, just an explanation) but till now there isn’t something as useful and efficient for when your brain can’t produce or regulate chemicals necessary for it be disease free. And Violet for keeping memories of two she loved the most alive and proud – because what happened to each of them wasn’t their fault and it wasn’t hers.
The book also touches upon our hypocrisy when it comes to funerals, judging how well a farewell to give to someone based on how one dies. And I’m ashamed to say how I’ve never thought about that before and must’ve been a hypocrite myself.
“People rarely bring flowers to a suicide.”
I have a discussion on this book, depression and loss on my IGtv too, in case you’d like to check it out.
Start a conversation on such things whenever you get a chance. It’s important to unlearn and forget all the unnecessary stigma attached to these important topics and get everyone comfortable with gaining the right knowledge.
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