Esther’s family is cursed. She is certain each family members curse is what will kill them, but what if the curse is something less sinister, that can be worked on and something that doesn’t have to take control of your life?
Twisting through rather fantasy talk, courtesy of 17 year old Esther who’s believed her grandfather’s tales her whole life, A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares is a pretty special depiction of what it’s like to live with mental illness, and how easy it is to let it consume you.
Upon starting this book and slowly making my way through it (no fault of the book, I’ve been struggling to read recently), I realise it sparks the same joy that occured for me when I first read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The writing was magical and so nicely done.
Personally I feel the portrayal of mental illness was spot on, and I felt bad for how warped Esthers sense of reality was. I really wish Jonah would’ve recieved help for his situation, or even better – the situation be resolved. Especially as he was so desperate to help out Esther with her mental health issues. I loved how Esther learns that she can escape from anxietys firm grip and be able to live her life more freely.
Hephzibah was a wonderful character, and I love that rather than her parents forcing her to speak, they got her BSL lessons so she could communicate with Esther and Eugene.
Speaking of Eugene, I was badly rooting for him. I can relate to the pain he was going through and wished he’d find peace eventually.
One of my favourite parts, that I keep thinking about, is in Chapter 38: The Ghosts of Esther’s Past, where the therapist gives 3 actually helpful tips – tip 2, Correct Thinking Mistakes is the one that hit home. Basically, whenever an anxiety occurs, a worst possible scenario, they are thinking mistakes. This is because it’s very unlikely any of the bad things anxiety comes up with are going to happen, if they did happen they’re probably not going to be as bad as imagined, and even if that is the case, you could surprise yourself and get through it and kick butt. I absolutely love this and I need to take it on board as even just reading it helps me feel like I can tackle anxiety.
It’s been some days now since I finished this book but I know it’s going to stick with me, reading it felt comforting and I really recommend it.