I was sent this book by the publisher, curious if I wanted to participate in the Blog Tour. After reading the novel, there was no question that I wanted to be a part of spreading the word about this story. Here is the blurb:
Set in the suburbs of Cleveland, the story is told in a nonlinear narrative through the eyes of the three Sawyer women. Smart-mouthed Melody is an underachiever, a home health care nurse with good intentions and a chip on her shoulder. Her married daughter Kayla has been deep in a clandestine affair with pro baseball player Baron Lee Presley since she was 16. After her death, Renee’s ghost keeps popping in on the family, invited and uninvited, much like the ghost of Uncle Jamie used to visit the girls.
Revolving around family and the issues that come with living in a family with mental illness, the story follows the Sawyer women through birth, coming-of-age and dealing with the death—and ghosts—of loved ones.
During my senior year of college I worked in a Residential Treatment Center for adolescent girls that were dealing with behavioral issues, some of which were caused by different kinds of mental illness. This book describes the story of three women who struggle with mental illness, whether it be by suffering from it or dealing with the backlash, and it does it beautifully. Heartbreakingly beautifully. I have seen these things first hand, and Fraser has hit the nail on the head.
This is one of those novels that is a story in it’s most basic sense. There is no mystery you need to figure out, no huge climax waiting at the end. It’s a story of life, from beginning to end. What Fraser has done in this novel is shine a light on mental illness that has been missing in YA lit. It doesn’t cover up the issue, or even make it bearable. She makes it real. She makes it important.
I have talked about how much the book Go Ask Alice affected me in high school, with it’s graphic warnings against drug abuse. I think that The Hardest Thing in This World could be just as important of a book for high school students to read. It takes a real world issue and displays it honestly for the reader, just like Go Ask Alice did for me and my peers. In my opinion, it deserves a spot on the shelf of every high school library and YA sections in every bookstore!