Updated: May 29, 2019
For a book that will reveal the perils of mental illness that you never knew about, read no further than The Anniversary, a fictional tale of loss, love, redemption, and rebirth. In J J Winston's debut novel, you'll read about Grandville and Juliette Stubbs, a couple that seems to have the perfect life, home, marriage and family. However, when bipolar disorder lurks under the surface, their world is just one ticking time-bomb away from being blown sky-high.
"What do you do when life has you in check?"----------J J Winston
This book is rather unusual, but it's the good kind of unusual. I'm not a self-help book reader, but what this book has managed to do is combine a self-help book with an intriguing story that could not only actually happen, but also trick me into learning things about mental illness sufferers that really opened my eyes to different perspectives of the diseases. As a person who deals with depression, anxiety, and an odd phobia of driving a car (especially during the Christmas season), I need all the help I can get. Sometimes though, I just hate getting it. Until I read The Anniversary.
The place where the events of The Anniversary happen is Cleveland, Ohio, and yes there are smartphones involved. I might mention that this is probably the only book I own that contains anything smartphone-related, as I'm an old-fashioned chick. In fact, I dragged my heels on getting one as much as Juliette did, but like her, I'm finally appreciating their variant uses.
What I Learned from Reading The Anniversary
"If you don't deal with your pain, it will deal with you." -----------J J Winston
How very true these words are. Here's an analogy for you. You are a sealed pop bottle. Inside of you is the pop. Imagine that the air bubbles in the pop are your pain. What happens when the bottle gets kicked down a hill and shaken up? Well, there are two things you can do. The first is to very gently break the seal on the bottle so the air (pain) has a chance to escape little by little and be dealt with gradually as it comes, much like a person talking out their feelings. The second choice is to keep that lid on and stay "bottled up."
What happens to that bottle once it can't take any more abuse? It explodes of course, and the pain and rage can't be controlled. You don't know what it will hit, or who it will hurt. As Grandville and Juliette sadly found out, this can often have irreversible consequences.
Despite its few flaws, the book presents a strong and well-argued message that communication is more important than any of us know. The only way to overcome a horrible event in our lives is to talk to others (preferably an experienced counselor) about them and get these problems cornered and dealt with. I hate to state the obvious, but silently suffering alone is still a form of suffering. Do yourself and your family a service and make use of the resources available to you. The Anniversary also has a companion workbook available that serves as both a supplement and a tool for helping people understand many topics related to mental illness. Winston gets bonus points from me for that!!!
J J Winston has done quite an excellent job with her first book, and I can think of no one who is better qualified to write such a work as this. She has spent more than two decades working in the behavioral health industry, working as a magistrate judge, social worker, and an attorney. This leaves me in awe, as my resume is nowhere near this impressive (cue sob).
To view the video version of this review, which presents a broader perspective, click here.
To find The Anniversary for yourself or a loved one, please click here.
For the companion workbook, please click here.
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