I’m thrilled to be opening the blog tour today alongside two other amazing bloggers for The Boy Between by Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley. Many thanks to Sarah Hardy for my blog tour invite and review copy of the book.
Bestselling novelist Amanda Prowse knew how to resolve a fictional family crisis. But then her son came to her with a real one…
Josiah was nineteen with the world at his feet when things changed. Without warning, the new university student’s mental health deteriorated to the point that he planned his own death. His mother, bestselling author Amanda Prowse, found herself grappling for ways to help him, with no clear sense of where that could be found. This is the book they wish had been there for them during those dark times.
Josiah’s situation is not unusual: the statistics on student mental health are terrifying. And he was not the only one suffering; his family was also hijacked by his illness, watching him struggle and fearing the day he might succeed in taking his life.
In this book, Josiah and Amanda hope to give a voice to those who suffer, and to show them that help can be found. It is Josiah’s raw, at times bleak, sometimes humorous, but always honest account of what it is like to live with depression. It is Amanda’s heart-rending account of her pain at watching him suffer, speaking from the heart about a mother’s love for her child.
For anyone with depression and anyone who loves someone with depression, Amanda and Josiah have a clear message—you are not alone, and there is hope.
Last year I went to the Wrexham Festival of Words and the highlight for me was listening to author Amanda Prowse talk about her life and how her writing journey began. I’ve long been a fan of her books and so I loved hearing the background story behind how she came to be a bestselling author. During that afternoon she mentioned that she was working on a book with her son and the emotions seemed to hit her as soon as she mentioned it and what lay behind their decision to collaborate on a book together. And I knew then that this book was one I had to read…
I’ve read other books about depression but never one as raw and powerful as The Boy Between. And I think the main reason for that is the fact that it’s written by a mother and son who have both delivered their own perspectives with a gut wrenching honesty. We get the background to their relationship from the day that Amanda gives birth to her much longed for baby boy Josiah-known as Josh. One of my favourite sayings is that you never know what goes on behind closed doors and I found it so sad that behind the happy and positive face Amanda showed in public she was going through such a difficult time in her private life. And I’m so glad that Josh told his story directly, with an openness that showed the strength of his relationship with his mother but also the special bond he shares with his stepfather Simeon. I was often in tears as the conversations between them showed the depths of concern from parents for their child and that awful feeling of despair and helplessness that grew from it. But there was nothing they could do to lift the hopelessness of the depression that had enveloped Josh and taken away his joy of living-apart from support him in any way that he would let them.
Having had depression myself several times in my life (usually brought on by traumatic events which isn’t always the case-especially with younger people) and having other members of my family also suffer from depression and PTSD, I thought this was an insightfully crafted book that delved beneath the surface of a hidden illness that everyone has an opinion on and, unfortunately, that opinion is not always a positive one. I’m sure people are well intentioned but telling a person with depression or anxiety to “snap out of it” and “what have you got to be depressed about?” show that we still have a HUGE amount of work to do in getting people to understand and recognise the underlying causes, signs and symptoms of depression. But these can vary so much from person to person and often there is no “trigger” in the same way that there’s no reason why some people get cancer and others don’t. Depression is also a killer and I just hope that by reading this book, a parent may spot something in there that sparks up a leading conversation with their child that might just save a life.
The Boy Between is a very personal and truthful account of depression that Josh and Amanda have put together with love and gratitude for their family and friends. Their mother and son bond shines through their narratives and I’m so pleased for them both that they are now coming through the other side. The suicide rate amongst young men is extraordinarily high and I hope that this book helps to raise awareness of that fact and get families talking about mental health issues.
This is a very special book that won’t be for everyone due to triggers but to see how depression can hit anyone at anytime-no matter who they are-is something we all need to see and understand. Highly recommended by me!
A keen environmentalist and animal lover, Josiah (Josh) Hartley lives in a remote farmhouse in the West Country with his two idle and arrogant French Bulldogs, Dottie and Beau. Happiest following the music scene in Bristol, at a festival or watching rugby with his mates, Josh enjoys the outdoor life and often heads to the sea to surf and sit on the beach watching the sun go down.
After a stint at the University of Southampton, another at the University of Bristol and one planned suicide, Josh decided to write about his descent into mental illness and the depression that held him in its grip for the past few years. The Boy Between carries the overriding message that things can and often do get better. It is a book of reflection, raw, honest and full of hope – the proof being that Josh is still here and excited about what comes next. He’s ready to catch any opportunity that life throws his way; quite a thing for someone who only a few years ago was living in a world gone grey, ready to disappear from the face of the earth…
Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author whose twenty five novels and seven novellas have been published in dozens of languages around the world. Published by Lake Union, Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres. Her books, including the chart topping No.1 titles ‘What Have I Done?’, ‘Perfect Daughter’, ‘My Husband’s Wife’, ‘The Girl in the Corner’ and ‘The Things I Know’ have sold millions of copies across the globe.
A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s ‘The Jeremy Vine Show’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She also makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations including LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour. Described by the Daily Mail as ‘The queen of family drama’ Amanda’s novel, ‘A Mother’s Story’ won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award while ‘Perfect Daughter’ was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016.
Amanda’s ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…