Title: Detached by Christina Kilbourne
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Fiction
Length: 208 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Anna has always been so level-headed, so easy-going, so talented and funny. How could anyone have guessed she wanted to die?
Anna is not like other people. For one thing, she’s been an accomplished artist since she was a preschooler. For another, she’s always felt like she didn’t belong: not with other kids, not with her family, not in her body. It isn’t until her grandparents are killed in a tragic accident, however, that Anna starts to feel untethered. She begins to wonder what it would be like if she didn’t exist, and the thought of escaping the aimless drifting is the only thing that brings her comfort.
When Anna overdoses on prescription painkillers, doctors realize she has been suffering from depression and start looking for a way to help her out of the desperate black hole she never thought she would escape. It’s then that rock bottom comes into sight and the journey back to normal begins.
Detached by Christina Kilbourne is an informative and insightful portrait of depression and suicidal ideation that I HIGHLY recommend to readers of all ages.
Sixteen year old Anna is an amazingly gifted artist, but she has never quite felt like she fit into her life. She is intelligent and thriving at her elite art school. Anna has a loving family and although her circle of friends is small, she is well-liked by everyone. However, following her grandparents’ deaths, the inner void she has always felt widens while at the same time, she begins to feel even more disconnected from her emotions, friends, family and life in general. The first hint of trouble first appears in her unsettling but magnificent painting of a bridge that has been the scene of several suicides over the years. Anna’s obsession with the bridge finally wanes, but unfortunately, her thoughts of ending of her life do not. Despite several subtle warning signs that everyone finds easy enough to explain away, no one realizes how desperate Anna’s situation is until it is nearly too late.
Initially, it is surprisingly easy for Anna to hide her feelings of hopelessness and despair from everyone around her. She covers up and explains away inconsistencies whenever anyone questions some of her actions, but there are subtle hints that her brother Joe and her closest friend Aliyah pick up on. However, they believe her explanations and occasionally grow irritated with some of her decisions and excuses. Anna is increasingly overwhelmed with dark thoughts and she eventually becomes consumed with the overpowering need to take her life.
Aliyah is well aware that something is off with her friend, but she fluctuates between annoyance and concern over Anna’s increasingly out of character behavior. The deeper Anna sinks into despair, the more worried Aliyah becomes, but she never considers depression as a reason for her friend’s actions. She does become alarmed enough to bring up her concerns about Anna with their friends, but amidst everyone’s reassurances that their friend is ok, she drops the subject. Aliyah is the first to realize that something is drastically wrong the final time Anna tries to commit suicide and her reactions in the aftermath are realistically portrayed.
Although Anna’s parents are well aware their daughter is acting out of character, it is easy to assume that this is typical teenage behavior. Anna’s father is frequently out of town for business but he too notices differences that he briefly questions but then chalks up to changing interests now she is growing up. Anna’s relationship with her mom is not particularly close and after her grandmother’s death, her mom is reluctant to do or say anything that might upset their precarious bond. In the aftermath of Anna’s overdose, startling revelations about her grandmother illustrate why it is so essential to de-stigmatize mental illness and openly and honestly discuss these issues.
Written from three very distinct points of view, Detached offers a thought-provoking and well-rounded perspective of the effects that depression and suicide have on the patient, family and friends. Christina Kilbourne’s sensitive approach to this difficult subject is quite candid and enlightening. The depiction of Anna’s struggles with depression and suicidal ideation is heartbreakingly honest and the novel’s conclusion is surprisingly upbeat and positive. I highly encourage readers of all ages to pick a copy of this riveting young adult novel that provides a poignant and educational portrayal of depression and suicidal thoughts.