Welcome back to Six Degrees of Separation. If you’re just tuning in, this is a monthly meme in which authors Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman provide us with a book title, and then we link it to six others in any we please. This month’s starting point is Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive.
I hoped to have read Reasons to Stay Alive before this post; instead it’s on my ever growing to-read pile. This book is about Mait Haig’s struggle with depression, something that’s affected a number of people I love. In one case, a friend of mine couldn’t find enough reasons to stay alive, and we were left to cope with the aftermath. Perhaps we should all be reading Reasons to Stay Alive in conjunction with asking our family and friends, ‘R U OK?’
The title reminds me of a book (and movie) called Alive, by Piers Paul Read, in which the people involved desperately wanted to live. In this true tale, it was the physical elements that were against them when their plane crashed into the Andes.
I taught Alive to a group of high school students a number of years ago and it provoked some interesting conversations in the classroom. Another book I read with a group of students was Little Brother by Allan Baillie. This is a fictional account of real events – the horrific atrocities that occurred in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. The main character is a young boy, Vithy, who is searching for his brother.
When I googled Little Brother (I hadn’t thought about it for some years and had to remind myself who wrote it), I was informed that people also searched for Libby Gleeson. Like Allan Baillie, Libby Gleeson has written a novel from the perspective of a young person whose life is turned upside down by terrible conflict, this time in Afghanistan. In Mahtab’s Story, the protagonist (Mahtab) is forced to flee with her family in order to find safety. Will Australia become that safe haven?
One of Libby Gleeson’s other books is Go to Sleep, Jessie, which recently won the 2015 CBCA Book of the Year Awards in the ‘Early Childhood’ Category.
The winner of the ‘Older Reader’ category is The Protected by Claire Zorn. Having loved her debut novel, The Sky So Heavy, I am adding this to my to-read list, too. In Zorn’s latest offering, teenager Hannah is living with the grief of losing her sister in a car accident.
Also dealing with loss and grief is Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, one of the first books I ever taught, and one I consider to be a modern classic that’s stood the test of time.
So it would seem I started with books about finding reasons to stay alive and finished with books about death and loss, and the impact on those left behind. Sorry the post didn’t end on a more ‘cheery’ note – I just went where the connections led me!
Why don’t you check out where Six Degrees of Separation led Annabel Smith? And even better, why not join in yourself.