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After a challenging journey, there was peace at the end.

Although Del, the young protagonist, travels a tough journey, there is ultimately peace and hope for all in The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent, the new contemporary young adult novel by Ann Jacobus. The book tackles some of the most difficult topics, too: suicide, alcoholism, and death, so ending up with such a compelling and satisfying story, the author has met and overcome some big challenges. This story is special.

Del, the eighteen-year-old main character, although doing better than she had been a year and a half earlier, is maintaining a fragile balance between recovery and relapse. She is beset with anxiety, depression, alcoholism, and the heavy, awkward baggage that comes from how people react to her past. It was eye-opening to realize how maintaining that balance was a constant battle for her, seeing her coping well one minute and then not the next.

Her Aunt Fran’s terminal diagnosis is a tipping point for Del, who continues to grasp at cures long after her aunt has recognized the futility and decided on an altered path for her future. The story explores in depth through Fran and Del’s ensuing experiences of the dying process: our modern removal or distancing from the process, attitudes, and physical stages. Fran’s death is not done behind closed doors. Del, and subsequently the reader, is there for the pain, symptoms, and bodily changes. Fran’s final weeks are assisted with hospice care, and how that works is part of the story.

Complicating matters are Del’s relationships with the two men in her life: her father and her childhood friend, Nick. Her father had turned over his daughter to his sister and abdicated his presence as a parent through fear and grief. Del had also pinned some romantic hopes and dreams on Nick after a visit the previous year had ended with a kiss. She’d spent the time since obsessing over that single kiss and building it up in her mind, while Nick had not. The mismatch in expectations when he comes to nearby Berkley for a summer internship, makes for an awkward reunion and heartbreak for Del.

The audiobook, skillfully voiced by narrator Jen Zhao, imbues the work with the solid feel of reality. Jen became the voice of Del, and I felt like I was hearing the character herself pour out her heart and soul to me. Zhao alters her voice appropriately to distinguish the other characters from each other. I thought her performance enhanced an already great book.

I recommend THE COLDEST WINTER I EVER SPENT to readers of contemporary young adult fiction that includes serious topics such as suicide, death, and dying.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Lone Star Book Blog Tours.
… (més)
KarenSiddall | Hi ha 8 ressenyes més | Sep 27, 2023 |
Ressenya escrita per a Crítics Matiners de LibraryThing .
Trigger Warnings: Mentions of suicide, mental health, alcoholism, hospice, end of life, death

Eighteen-year-old Del is now sober, her depression and anxiety are being treated, she’s volunteering at a suicide-prevention hotline, and she’s living with her amazing Aunt Fran. Her own suicide attempt last year is in the past.

But, when Aunt Fran is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Del’s world is flipped upside down. She’s spent all her time now saving people, but she can’t save Fran - only help her prepare for what’s coming. On top of that, she’s got a crush on a boy she’s known since childhood, her first semester of college is quickly approaching, and she still has shifts at the crisis line. When Aunt Fran asks for Del’s help with her final request, Del must face her demons head on and rethink life and death.

Everyone handles grief differently. The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent talks about Del’s. It was a bit nice to see Del’s outlook on a lot of things, especially when it came to her talking about her suicide attempt and where’s she’s at mentally now. Is she a little callous when she views what happened to her and where she is now? A bit - but I’m also thinking that the mindset of her generation is a lot different than older ones. Shoot, I’m a millennial and our humor and mind set is dark, yet alone Gen Z’s.

I believe this is a good book for teens about both mental health and grief. Throughout this novel, I would remember my aunt passing away from breast cancer and the hospice she received at the later end of her time here on Earth. This also talks heavily about assistant suicide / death with dignity .

Overall, this is a heavy book, but one that will let others feel seen, especially during a time where they may have a loved one dying.

*Thank you Carolrhoda Lab and LibraryThing for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review
… (més)
oldandnewbooksmell | Hi ha 8 ressenyes més | Jul 31, 2023 |
I was going to pass after the first few pages. I'm extremely glad I didn't because this story packs a ton of emotion and insight into a realistic story. Del is still on shaky ground a year after a serious suicide attempt. As the story unfolds, readers are given a gradual understanding of how her mother died. Mom also suffered from severe depression and Del watched her lie unresponsive in a hospital bed when she was much younger.
With her attempt making a continuation at her east coast private school a non-starter, and living with her emotionally distant father in London equally untenable, She's now in San Francisco with her paternal aunt who owns an art gallery.
Del's plan is to get stronger emotionally and attend college there. She volunteers several times a week, answering calls on a suicide prevention hotline. She also tries to figure out her maybe relationship with Nick, a boy she's known since they were little kids. He's interning at a college he hopes to transfer to in light of wanting to become a doctor. He has a vision issue that will eventually get worse.
The story weaves Del's stream of consciousness relating to suicidal ideation, her struggle to remain clean and sober, her thoughts sparked by the calls she takes on the hotline, her insecurities about a possible relationship with Nick, and the big gorilla in the room-her aunt's terminal cancer. These are done insightfully and extremely well. The book is a fascinating read and one that deserves a spot in most library collections.
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sennebec | Hi ha 8 ressenyes més | Jul 16, 2023 |
Delilah, a soon-to-be college student who also is a volunteer for a suicide crisis line, lives with her favorite aunt, Fran, in an apartment in San Francisco, California. Del enjoys making art collages and rollerblading. Fran manages a successful art gallery and has a charismatic yet easy-going personality which is what anxiety-driven Del needs in her life. Aunt Fran became Del's lifeline following her suicide attempt as a teenager and has since helped Del to get sober and ready to enter college on her own. A childhood friend, Nick, becomes a part of Del's social circle in San Francisco because of an internship and soon Del is feeling more than friendship for him, but does he feel the same way? Del thinks the summer could be looking up for her, but as she seems to be at a place in her life where she could finally get her life together, her aunt tells her that she has cancer. The cancer unfortunately is terminal. The summer is filled with Del taking care of her aunt and learning how to cope with being introduced to the dying process through Fran's hospice care. Del learns that maybe being closer to understanding our deaths, helps us to become more aware of living fuller lives.

Though death and suicide are difficult topics, Jacobus takes the reader to respectful inquiry on these subjects through each of her characters. The main character, Del, is faced with a tough job, taking care of her aunt at the end of her life, but she learns how death can be a holy process and ultimately it ignites a greater fire in her to live after her aunt's passing. The accounts that are depicted of people that call into the crisis center are honest but helpful to the story as we see how this volunteering affects Del and her understanding of respecting others' choices about their lives and deaths. She also learns important lessons about mental health care throughout the story. The reader is privy to how Del copes with her own mental health in both constructive and very destructive ways. Readers who are going through similar life experiences and lessons surrounding death, mental health issues, suicidality, anxiety, cancer, etc., may find this story relatable and comforting. This book contains complex and emotional topics. This book should be for audiences of mature young adults to adults.
… (més)
miosmith5 | Hi ha 8 ressenyes més | Jun 20, 2023 |


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