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Breath in the Dark
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From the first lines of Breath in the Dark, there is a powerful sense that this is special. The simplicity of Jane's style, the clarity of the child's voice and the intensity of emotion fired in those few words had me hooked from the start. From the first moment, we know that there is much that is outside our comprehension; that we are inside a child's mind. Jane expresses the beautiful mix of confusion, faith and fear that characterises her childhood effortlessly. The dark, misty night that hangs over the opening scene hangs over the whole story, like the glow that is just as likely to be the danger of a fire as the safety of a streetlamp. The opening image is apt - if not inspired - as Jane's story constantly oscillates between these peaks of hope and despair, yearning to be mothered by, but always playing mother to, a woman teetering on the brink of death. It is a portrait in trauma. Not only does it contain all the elements of a highly moving memoir, Jane's rendering of these is so original as to give the impression of never having read them before. With little knowledge of the problems that a difficult childhood creates, we can foresee the profound effect this will have on Hikey's later years. Slowly we realise the effects this existence has - and will come to have - on Hikey: not only through the occasional comparisons we can draw with her peers, as she comes into contact with the outside world, but also through the changing thoughts and feelings she relates. We don't notice the passage of time in the story, because Hikey herself has no concept of it. There is so much more I could say about Breath in the Dark, it's excellent narrative, incredible intensity and the unfakeable ring of truth it carries - but this could fill pages. Every part of it is an extremely powerful reading experience: it is heartbreaking and fascinating in equal amounts. -- HarperCollins * HarperCollins *
This is a simply stunning book. It is moving, emotive and raises crucial issues regarding children and young adults who act in a caring role in the UK. This caring role may not only be for mental health issues of course, but also a range of physical health problems. The profound physical, psychological and social impacts that this role can have on young people is starkly presented in this autobiography...I found myself both moved and haunted by this book...A key text for clinicians, students and carers and parents themselves.' -- Madness and Literature Network

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