This is honestly one of the most wonderful books I’ve ever read. You can check out my review here, but in the mean time here’s my interview question for author Marieke Nijkamp!
You explore mental health issues in Before I Let Go. Is this something that we should be talking about more in books?
For YA books in particular, I feel like in recent years we’ve had amazing books that increasingly addressed mental health in a variety of different ways, and across the genres. To give you an example… in Before I Let Go, Kyra lives with bipolar disorder. While she is a main character, she isn’t the protagonist. A conscious choice for the story I wanted to tell, but also one that’s only possible because we see more and more protagonists too. So thank goodness for books like S. Jae-Jones’s spellbinding Wintersong and Emery Lord’s heartfelt When We Collided, two wildly different stories that both star girls with bipolar disorder.
Of course, while we’re heading in the right direction, increased presence is only a starting point. I’d still love to see more discussion of mental health – and, in a broader sense, neuroatypicality and disability – in YA. I’d love us to deconstruct harmful tropes that have come into existence with regards to mental health. I’d love for us to destigmatize mental illness. I’d love to see more, far more intersectionality. Because the thing is… this affects real teens. We should talk about it more in books, because teen readers live with their own mental health struggles. They live in a world where mental illness is still too often taboo. They are the Kyra’s, and the Liesls, and the Vivis, and they deserve to tell their stories and be seen.
Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp is published by Sourcebooks on 23/01/18.