Sarah's Diary: An Unflinchingly Honest Account of One Family's Struggle with Depression is a candid look at a father's depression from his teenage daughter's point of view. Depression affected not only the sufferer, the father, but the rest of the family (mum and four sisters) as well. How did they cope with a mentally ill family member?
At the age of fourteen, Sarah found her dad trying to commit suicide in the garage. This became a family secret. Something else to be kept from public knowledge like his depression. This is typical in many families dealing with depression. There is a feeling of shame surrounding the illness. The downside to hiding the illness is a lack of support from outside the immediate family. Sarah coped by telling the family secrets to her diary.
This book explores the ups and downs of depression. On good days life went on as normal. On bad days however everyone found it hard to cope. The father would be feeling sorry for himself, crying, not talking at all or talking about nothing important. It made Sarah angry sometimes that he wouldn't pull himself together. It's a common myth that depressed people can snap out of it. They can't. But I'll bet they wish they could.
At the age of fifteen Sarah's dad does die. What a way to grow up fast. How does he die? For the answer to that you'll have to read the book.
This is a typical teenager's diary and as such it also contains the usual teenager's concerns. Sarah worries what others think about her. She encounters boys and wonders about them. And she is introduced to alcohol. Sarah is a bit of a rebel but it comes across as being quite normal and nothing out of the ordinary. This is probably because there are no negative consequences to her drinking. For most teenagers experimenting with alcohol there are bad experiences such as drinking too much and getting into trouble. There's an innocence to Sarah that remains despite the adult behaviour.
As a real life teenager's diary you can expect the book to be sprinkled with swear words. The writing style is easy to read. Diary entries are mostly short so it is a book you can read in little snippets if you desire. I however found the book engaging enough to read in just two sittings.
I thorough enjoyed this book. I give it four out of five stars.