Please note that you will not find any unfavourable reviews here. I only write reviews on books that I enjoyed reading.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Caroline Smaile's Black Boxes

Black Boxes by Caroline Smailes and published by The Friday Project is a book that gives you your money's worth on every page. Once again Caroline has taken one of life's most important and rarely discussed issues and with her very unique voice, made it into a very readable novel.

Black boxes is compelling reading.

I expect readers who are not familiar with Caroline's writing will think that the topic is used to allay one's fear of the situation but as usual she does no such thing. Instead, she bravely examines each nuance of this emotive topic, detailing the root cause and perpetuating factors, following the path of destruction that unrecognised postnatal depression can become.

Although this is not an academic work, it accomplishes what no textbook will ever do and I strongly recommend it as reading for Health and Social Care students. I admire Caroline hugely for writing this book and know that each person who reads it will develop a greater understanding of some very sensitive issues that are very much a part of many people's lives.

Postnatal depression is the main issue but emotional abuse, neglect, bullying, love and hate are also seamlessly blended in this book written from the mother Ana's and daughter Pip's perspective. Pip's voice also speaks for her brother Davie. Ana speaks with imperfect and egocentric hindsight, Pip cries out from the harsh, damaging reality of the present time.

The parallels are sharp, perfectly honed, gleaming. There is white hot pain contained within the pages of this book.

Pip and Davie need a hiding tree, a place to escape the tsunami like destruction of their parent's madness's. Their pain rings out like the tones that can be coaxed from the rim of wet crystal and I found myself reading with the certainty that one of their songs was going to stop.

I challenge you to read Pip's closing words without a tear in your eye...


Joker The Lurcher said...

i suspect i will have ordered this from amazon before the day is out - what grabs me about your description is the reference to it doing what textbooks don't do. i felt that 'the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime' gave the best description of aspergers i had ever read for the same reason.

the blueblog said...

Fine review Deej, and I can only echo what you say. I think the hardest thing to do when you write a book that raises 'issues' is to remember to make it entertaining to read, something she does brilliantly and makes it look far too simple. I've got to say she annoys the hell out of me ;o)

Leatherdykeuk said...

I already have it on order, else you would have persuaded me!

Casdok said...

I will be ordering it to. Sounds fasinating.

nmj said...

hey dj, this is a great review, i am a third way through, pip has just come into the narrative, and i want to pick it up right now and keep reading!

DK Green said...

Smashing provoking review, I'm really looking forward to reading it now!

HelenMH said...

I totally agree with what you've said about the closing words from Pip. Gut-wrenchingly powerful. I finished Black Boxes last night and will also review it soon.

Megan said...

Couldn't agree more! It's a stunning, powerful, mesmerising book
(And it was lovely to meet you at the launch last week (-;)

Jon M said...

Nice review DJ. Enjoyed said book immensely.

DJ Kirkby said...

Hi Joker
This is a tremendously important book that needs to be read. Please let me know what you think, I'd love to discuss it in detail with you once you've formed your own opinions.

Hi blueblog
She really is quite remarkable isn't she? My students are going to groan when I add to their reading list but they'll forgive me when they realise it is a novel not a textbook.

Hi Leather,
Money well spent! Have your loved ones close by while reading...

Hi Casdok
It is amazing. It makes the reader run through every emotion in existance.

Hi Nasim
I expect you have picked up the book agian by now and wonder if you feel the same way I did while reading Pip's narrative...:( Poor little girl.

Like I said to your wife, have your loved ones close by while you read this...

Hi Helen
I feel some kind of wierd solidarity with you now...the I 'get' Black Boxes's message club... I look forward to reading your review.

Hi Megan!
Ah ditto, thanks hon. I'd love to read your review so am hoping you will write one.

Ashley Ladd said...

What a great review. I've been meaning to order this book. I'll have to do so now. Thanks for giving us some insight DJ

watching9987 said...

I've not quite finished it yet, still a quarter or so to go, but it's addictive reading - brilliant. Really.

Debs said...

I'm glad I've ordered this book, I can't wait to read it.

DJ Kirkby said...

Hi Ashley,

Hi Nik,
You are so lucky to have had such an amazing mentor.

Hi Debs
Let me know wha tyou think when you've finished it! xo