For my second post of the day I’m excited to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for powerful and moving memoir The Boy Between by the fabulous Amanda Prowse and her son Josiah Hartley. Thank you to Kelly from Love Books Tours and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review this devastatingly honest book.
About the book:
Bestselling novelist Amanda Prowse knew how to resolve a fictional family crisis. But then her son came to her with a real one…
Josiah was nineteen with the world at his feet when things changed. Without warning, the new university student’s mental health deteriorated to the point that he planned his own death. His mother, bestselling author Amanda Prowse, found herself grappling for ways to help him, with no clear sense of where that could be found. This is the book they wish had been there for them during those dark times.
Josiah’s situation is not unusual: the statistics on student mental health are terrifying. And he was not the only one suffering; his family was also hijacked by his illness, watching him struggle and fearing the day he might succeed in taking his life.
In this book, Josiah and Amanda hope to give a voice to those who suffer, and to show them that help can be found. It is Josiah’s raw, at times bleak, sometimes humorous, but always honest account of what it is like to live with depression. It is Amanda’s heart-rending account of her pain at watching him suffer, speaking from the heart about a mother’s love for her child.
For anyone with depression and anyone who loves someone with depression, Amanda and Josiah have a clear message—you are not alone, and there is hope.
About the author:
Josiah (Josh) Hartley lives in an isolated farmhouse in the West Country, but close enough to Bristol to enjoy its music scene. He is an animal lover and servant to two French Bulldogs. Equally happy at a music festival or watching rugby with his mates, he likes the outdoor life and with Devon only a short drive away often heads to the sea to surf and sit on the beach watching the sun go down. After a stint at the University of Southampton and another at the University of Bristol and one unsuccessful suicide attempt, Josh decided to write about his descent into mental illness and the depression that has held him in its grip for the past few years. The Boy Between carries the overriding message that things can and often do get better. It’s a book of reflection, raw, honest and full of hope: the proof being that Josh is still here and now excited about what comes next. He is ready to catch any opportunities that life throws his way, quite a thing for someone who only three years ago was living in a world gone grey, ready to disappear from the face of the earth…
Amanda Prowse likens her own life story to those she writes about in her books. After self-publishing her debut novel, Poppy Day, in 2011, she has gone on to author twenty-five novels and six novellas. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages and she regularly tops bestseller charts all over the world. Remaining true to her ethos, Amanda writes stories of ordinary women and their families who find their strength, courage and love tested in ways they never imagined. The most prolific female contemporary fiction writer in the UK, with a legion of loyal readers, she goes from strength to strength. Being crowned ‘queen of domestic drama’ by the Daily Mail was one of her finest moments. Amanda is a regular contributor on TV and radio but her first love is, and will always be, writing. This is her first work of non-fiction.
The Boy Between by bestselling author Amanda Prowse is a complete departure from her usual type of book. Here she joins forces with her son Josiah Hartley to tell the devastatingly honest and moving account of Josh’s battle with depression. I knew going in that this wasn’t going to be an easy read, but nothing could have quite prepared me for the raw and painful honesty of both mother and son’s words.
Make no bones about it, The Boy Between is an important book to read, no matter what your experience of mental illness is. I know it from both sides, having gone through a mental breakdown myself a little under three years ago, but also having personal experience of seeing a loved one go through it and the effect it has not only on them but on the whole family.
So for me I could identify with both Josh and Amanda as their painful journey with depression unfolded. From Josh wanting to end his life to Amanda’s sense of helplessness as she tries to cope with seeing her son in so much pain. Their words are so heartbreakingly powerful and I felt every emotion right alongside them.
Oh my goodness, what a powerful read this is! I have to admit I found Josh’s side of the story incredibly difficult to read at times as it took me back to a time that I hope never to go back to again. A time of darkness and pain, of just wanting everything to stop!
But, as painful as it is to read at times, The Boy Between is also about love and hope and how, even in the depths of despair, you’re able to learn to live again. To smile and feel the sun on your face once more.
Josh, thank you for sharing your honest account of living with this devastating illness. And Amanda, your words have always had the ability to move me, but here you have laid everything bare and shared so much of yourself and how it feels to see someone you love go through so much pain. Your words are going to help so many people who feel they have no one to turn to! And for that I truly thank you.
I’m not sure I’ve been able to do this remarkable book justice as it is such an emotive subject for me, so finding the right words is far from easy. But my words are from the heart and I’ve expressed them in the only way I know how.
Suffice to say The Boy Between is a brutally honest and beautfully written book that I believe everyone should read. A powerful and emotional insight into depression that not only shares the personal story of a mother and son, but also sends out a clear message of hope and understanding to anyone out there who is suffering with their mental health.
Reach out. Talk. You are not alone.