Though Bleuel committed suicide in March 2017, Project Semicolon remains an active nonprofit support network, and this book...

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PROJECT SEMICOLON

YOUR STORY ISN'T OVER

An essay collection from contributors who have experienced mental illness or who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Following her father’s suicide and her own battles with mental health issues, Bleuel founded Project Semicolon in 2013. She encouraged participants to draw or tattoo a semicolon on their bodies, submit a photo, and share their stories online. To Bleuel, the semicolon represented “when an author chooses to continue a sentence rather than end it.” Symbolically, the project hopes to help people understand that “you are the author and the sentence is your life.” The essays in this collection represent a range of mental health experiences, including anxiety, panic disorders, OCD, and self-harm. Some contributors reference teen experiences while others refer to spouses, children, or military service. The essays often explain the onset of the mental illness or self-harming behaviors and typically conclude with encouragement for readers experiencing their own challenges. Collectively, several themes emerge, including trauma from abuse, feelings of shame surrounding mental health challenges, and the understanding that mental health management is a lifetime commitment. Most essays are just a few pages in length, occasionally making it difficult to visualize exactly how a contributor gained control over his or her self-destructive impulses. A substantial list of resources is appended.

Though Bleuel committed suicide in March 2017, Project Semicolon remains an active nonprofit support network, and this book is eloquent testimony of its work. (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-246652-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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A triumphant story of bravery and defiance that will shock and inspire.

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SYMPHONY FOR THE CITY OF THE DEAD

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH AND THE SIEGE OF LENINGRAD

The epic tale of the siege of Leningrad and its native son, composer Dmitri Shostakovich, whose seventh symphony comforted, consoled, and rallied a population subjected to years of unspeakable suffering.

Anderson vividly chronicles the desperate lengths residents went to, including acts of cannibalism, to survive the Wehrmacht’s siege, a 3-year-long nightmare that left more than 1 million citizens dead. The richly layered narrative offers a keen-eyed portrait of life in the paranoid, ruthlessly vengeful Stalinist Soviet Union, its citizens living under a regime so capriciously evil that one could be heralded a hero of the motherland one day and condemned as a traitor the next. The storytelling is captivating, describing how Shostakovich began composing the symphony under relentless bombardment in Leningrad and later finished it in Moscow, its triumphant performance in Leningrad during the siege, and how it rallied worldwide sympathy for Russia’s plight. Music is at the heart of the story. As Anderson writes in the prologue, “it is a story about the power of music and its meanings,” and he communicates them with seeming effortlessness in this brilliantly written, impeccably researched tour de force.

A triumphant story of bravery and defiance that will shock and inspire. (photos, author’s note, sources notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6818-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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