It’s just a normal Tuesday for sixteen-year-old Kai, until suddenly it’s anything but. She’s received a letter from her beloved older sister, Jen, a letter that begins, My very bestest sister, Kai, if you are reading this, I am already gone. From that moment on, Kai’s life will never be the same, as she is forced to deal with the shock and horror of losing Jen to suicide. Consumed with grief, Kai looks for answers, lashes out at people who love her and eventually turns to excessive drinking and drugs, all with disastrous results and no relief from her suffering. Struggling with their own sorrow, Kai’s parents realize she needs more help than they can give, and they enroll her in the Tree House, a ?grief camp? for children. Though reluctant to go, once she’s there, Kai finally finds others who truly understand her loss. No longer alone, she’s able to begin dealing with her pain. And to see light at the end of the dark tunnel.
Kim Turrisi’s beautiful, wrenching young-adult novel sheds a much-needed light on the subjects of mental illness and suicide. Using the unique idea of a grief camp, Turrisi lays out a process for healing and moving forward for readers who have been touched by loss. But this book’s appeal reaches beyond that. With combined elements of tragedy and romance, compellingly told in Kai’s authentic voice, this ultimately hopeful story will be an unputdownable read for any teen.
Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turissi starts on a normal day before Kai’s world is shattered by her sister’s suicide. The book takes us through all the motions from when Kai found the suicide note to her finding the body. It started off an emotional read and went on this way for most part of the book. What I found interesting is that the author did not just gloss over the details of the death. There were details about the funeral as we saw the family making decisions about the clothes for the deceased and the kind of coffin to pick. It was easy to connect with their characters and get to understand how each one of them was dealing with the grief.
This book has quite heavy themes of suicide and mental health issues. It gives an in depth look of the victims. In this case, I was surprised by the methodically way that Jen planned her death yet her family had no clue that she was even depressed. It made me wonder about how many times people around us hide their pain so well that we don’t know what they are going through until it is too late. The book focuses on the grief of those left behind, the suicide survivors. The different emotions that the family went through from denial, pain, anger to guilt.
I already mentioned just how heavy this book is but it actually got heavier as the story progressed. Kai ends up in a grief camp and is surrounded by teens and even younger kids dealing with grief. In her group, we meet people who have lost loved ones. There is a kid who lost her grandmother, another who lost his dad in Afghanistan, a twin who lost his brother in an accident…there is so much pain all around. However, through the pages, we also get to experience the character’s healing as they deal with their pain.
Just like in the first chapters where the author gave details about Jen’s death and her funeral, readers also get details about the grief counseling. We get to learn the exercises that the teens had to take and how this helped them. This helps in understanding their personal journeys There is a bit of romance that blossoms at the camp which was great to read about in the midst of all the sadness.
Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turissi is an issue-oriented YA that covers themes of death and mental health issues. Other themes that come up in the story include; substance abuse, family, friendship and healing. This is the kind of book that will break you and then fix you up again. If you want to get an understanding on issues of grief, suicide and coping then I definitely recommend this book. I also think that readers who like issue-oriented YA books may like this book.
Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi will be published on May 2, 2017 by Kids Can Press, thanks to them and net galley for an arc