Title: Cheer the F**k Up – How to Save Your Best Friend

Author: Jack Rooke

Pages: 403 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House

The Blurb

This book will definitely make you laugh and might just make you cry, but it could also help save a life.

Cheer the F**K Up is a bold, brilliant and very personal account of a young comedian’s experiences with mental health. An ode to the importance of friendship, Jack Rooke takes us on a mission to better understand the reasons why so many people are struggling, and how we can all feel better equipped in knowing how to support that one friend we might be that bit more worried about.

Part comedic memoir, part advice guide, this book is a fresh and timely take on a huge issue very close to Jack’s heart – in 2015, while working as an ambassador for a male mental health charity, he lost one of his best friends to suicide.

Taking you on a journey through his life and experiences with grief, sexuality, depression and more, Jack offers his own frank and powerful advice on how best to have meaningful conversations about a loved one’s state of mind. Hilarious and heart-breaking in equal measure, Cheer the F**K Up will definitely make you laugh and might just make you cry, but it could also help save a life.

The Review

I’m going to get this out of the way right now and say that Cheer the F**k Up is the best book I have read about mental health.

And with that out of the way let me tell you why. Jack Rooke attacks mental health with heart, compassion and humour. I know that sounds wrong but sometimes when things all fall apart the only thing you can do is laugh.

This book deals with so many things such as love, loss, sexuality, death, suicide and never did I feel like Rooke fudged it. He treated each area of this narrative sensitively and even at its most difficult it was a great thing to read.

So, once again I reiterate, Cheer the F**k Up is the best book about mental health that I have ever read.

Cheer the F**k Up by Jack Rooke is available now.

For more information regarding Jack Rooke (@jackrooke) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: Girl Friends

Author: Holly Bourne

Pages: 444 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

“Men see women in two separate categories. There are the women they sleep with, and the women they fall in love with. And they will treat you differently based on that.”

From the day they first meet as teenagers Fern and Jessica are best friends. Despite their differences, they are there for each other throughout everything, navigating the difficulties of growing up and fitting in. That is, until Jessica crosses a line that Fern can’t forgive.

But now, more than ten years later, Jessica has unexpectedly reappeared in Fern’s life.

A lot has changed for them both – but can their relationship be different now they are older? Is it possible for either of them to rewrite the role that they have been cast in? Or will their shared history ultimately be doomed to repeat itself?

Set between the present day and the past, GIRL FRIENDS is a blisteringly funny and devastating novel: both a joyful celebration of female friendship and a razor-sharp look at the damage we can all cause to those we claim to love the most.

The Review

There are some books that really resonate with you. You see yourself in a character or you empathise with a storyline. Girl Friends by Holly Bourne did that for me. Besides being set during my the same timeline as my teenage to new adult years, the things that happened or events experienced are similar to things that I went through. Mainly spending my summers at the Leeds festival (whoop whoop) and struggling with a friendship.

Friendship is the main theme of Girl Friends and Holly Bourne explores how the relationships between friends can be both a source of comfort but equally can be toxic. It looks at how they seem in real time but also how with hindsight we can see all the bad things. Sometimes at the detriment of the good memories.

The friendship between Fern and Jessica is both all consuming and fraught with difficulty. Fern’s insecurities put strain on their adult relationship but Bourne has countered this showing us all of the things that Jessica did in their friendship to make Fern feel the way she did.

When reading the story I got so invested in their relationship. I knew I disliked Jessica’s actions but there were obviously fueled by her insecurities. I felt for Fern but she showed her absolute worst side by her jealousy but I couldn’t help feel for her.

I really feel that Holly Bourne has tapped into what it is like to have a complex friendship with someone. How it can be all consuming and can make and break you on a daily basis. How that friendship can bring out the best in you and also bring out the absolute worst in you at the same time. And how if that friendship ends it can be the biggest heartbreak you ever feel. Reading Girl Friends felt cathartic for me. I’ve never had resolution with my broken friendship but it felt good reading something that validates my feelings.

Girl Friends by Holly Bourne is available now.

For more information regarding Holly Bourne (@holly_bourneYA) please visit www.hollybourne.co.uk.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit www.hodder.co.uk.

Title: The Words We Keep

Author: Erin Stewart

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Simon YA

The Blurb

It’s been two months since the Night on the Bathroom Floor – when Lily found her sister, Alice, hurting herself. Now Alice is coming home after treatment and it’s getting harder for Lily to outrun the compulsive thoughts she’s having.

Meeting Micah, a guy with a troubled past of his own, the pair embark on a poetry project that helps Lily to see that the words she’s been holding back, desperately want to break through. But what will Micah think if he finds out who she really is?

The Review

I have read a lot of YA over the years. A lot. Tons. So it always surprises me when I am so moved by a book that after I have finished I want someone else to read it so I can talk to them about it that very second. That was how I felt when I read The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart.

The story is about a family who are falling apart at the seams but are keeping themselves together with plasters and selotape. Lily, our protagonist is trying desperately to hold her family together. She is dealing with her own mental health problems alongside being a teenager, falling in love, trying to be the perfect student among other things and it is getting too much for her. The Words We Keep is the story of the individual struggle that a person can have and the need to find someone who can help.

Issues surrounding mental health are dealt with so unflinchingly that it is hard to read at times – not due to the writing I must say but because you care so much for the characters and you can see things from several perspectives even though it is a one voice narrative.

The Words We Keep is an absolutely wonderful read.

The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart is available now.

For more information regarding Erin Stewart (@Erin_N_Stewart) please visit www.erinstewartbooks.com.

For more information regarding Simon YA (@simonYAbooks) please visit www.simonandschuster.co.uk.

Title: And Now for the Good News…To the Future With Love

Author: Ruby Wax

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

When was the last time that reading the news made you feel good?

Dear Reader,

I know what you’re thinking, is it some kind of macabre joke? Has she been in a coma? How can Ruby Wax write a book about good news when the world is facing the worst disaster since the Plague? 

Let me explain. I began writing in 2018, back when the world’s worries were somewhat different. Climate change, greedy bankers, exam results, crap politicians, mental health: these are still HUGE ISSUES, but even the ancient soothsayers reading pig entrails couldn’t have predicted this.

This is my new mission: to share the green shoots of hope peeping through the soil of civilization. Literacy is at an all-time high, world-hunger is likely to be eradicated this century, technological improvements are saving lives ­- just to scratch the surface. I’ve talked to everyone from leaders to scientists to tech geniuses. I’ve done the research and practiced what I preach. And my conclusion? Behind the clouds, the sun still shines. 

So here’s to the shoots – may they become a blueprint for how the world can shift for the good. Hopefully we’ll learn from them.

Love, Ruby

The Review

Wow. What a truly positive and joyous read. In her book – And Now for the Good News – Ruby Wax looks at world problems and really manages to show how a) they impact our mental health and b) how we can do something about it – both our mental health and helping fix the problems within the world.

If I am honest, I was expecting sardonic wit and humour. The sort of thing you are used to getting from Ruby Wax in her humourous guises. However, what I got was a lot of humour but equally a lot of real life advice. It is not surprising that she had been awarded degrees for her work in mental health.

And Now for the Good News is genuinely uplifting. Wax doesn’t shy away from the darker more difficult topics but equally she makes you see the positivity that life has to offer. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

And Now for the Good News… by Ruby Wax is available now.

For more information regarding Ruby Wax (@RubyWax) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back

Author: Alicia Cook

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

The Blurb

Sorry I haven’t texted you back, I’ve been so anxious and depressed I haven’t had time to catch my breath, you know how life gets!

Returning to the form of Stuff I’ve Been Feeling LatelySorry I Haven’t Texted You Back is a poetic mixtape dedicated to those who struggle or have struggled with their mental health. Divided into two parts, “Side A” holds 92 poems, titled as “tracks,” and “Side B” holds the “remixes,” or blackout-poetry versions, of  those 92 poems. The book includes the evergreen themes of love, grief, and hope. Named after Cook’s viral Instagram poem, Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back lands in the crossroads of self-help and poetry.

The Review

Sorry I Haven’t Text You Back is a powerful set of poems that has poet Alicia Cooks figuratively bleeding on the page. She gives her all in this collection and leaves you in no doubt as to how she is feeling. She takes the theme of mental health and uses poetry to help you understand. 

It is a shocking, powerful and moving collection of poems which needs to be digested slowly and allow yourself time to fully digest the meanings behind the poems. 

It also comes with a kick-ass soundtrack to accompany it.

Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back by Alicia Cook is available now.

For more information regarding Alicia Cook (@the_alicia_cook) please visit instagram.com/thealiciacook.

For more information regarding Andrews McMeel Publishing (@AndrewsMcMeel) please visit www.andrewsmcmeel.com.