Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski

In 2006 Jamie Tworkowski wrote a story called “To Write Love on Her Arms” about helping a friend through her struggle with drug addiction, depression, and self-injury. The piece was so hauntingly beautiful that it quickly went viral, giving birth to a non-profit organization of the same name. Nine years later, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is an internationally-recognized leader in suicide prevention and a source of hope, encouragement, and resources for people worldwide.

Jamie’s words have been shared hundreds of thousands of times online. They’ve shown up on T-shirts and posters and even tattoos. Now, for the first time, Jamie’s writing is available in the form of a book. If You Feel Too Much is a celebration of hope, wonder, and what it means to be human. From personal stories of struggling on days most people celebrate to offering words of strength and encouragement in moments of loss, the essays in this book invite readers to believe that it’s okay to admit to pain and it's okay to ask for help. If You Feel Too Much is an important book from one of this generation’s most important voices.

Received for review.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this since I'd never actually heard of the author or his work before but I was very pleasantly surprised.  There may possibly have even been some sniffling and teary eyes on my part while reading.

This collection of stories (most quite short, some a bit longer) is surprisingly emotional.  The author presents each and doesn't force a viewpoint on you, he simply allows you to form your own conclusions about what the "lesson" should be.  Oddly, it's really quite a calming approach.  It all feels very chill and relaxed but not that the author doesn't care, because he clearly feels very deeply about each story, but that he is just there as a facilitator for the journey and not a tour guide.

The stories themselves are as a group a memoir, but they're almost like snapshots in a life.  Like you're flipping through a photo album with the author and he pauses and tells you the story behind each photo that you point out.  It's a very unusual and pleasant experience.

My favorite quote from the book is from the "disclaimer" at the end:  

What if all those things that make up your story, the hard stuff and the good stuff, all the fears and dreams - what if all of it matters?  I want to suggest the possibility that right now, today, tonight, you are living a story that is entirely unique, a story that is sacred and priceless, one where no one else can play your part.

The one thing that drove me absolutely bonkers is that throughout the entire book not a single "I" is capitalized.  Not a single one.  It eventually became tolerable but still left an annoying urge to whip out a red pen and fix every single one.

Overall, this was an entertaining and emotional read and I highly, highly recommend it.  This would also make a lovely gift.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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