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Fans of cult classic The Perks of Being a Wallflower will love Ann Dee Ellis’ This is What I Did. The similarity between the two novels runs deep – the innocence and social ignorance of the main characters, the sparse poetic text, the difficulty of the hero working through a traumatic experience that he doesn't fully understand. But This is What I Did reads differently, with its complicated family relationships and the added stress of Logan’s family having just recently move across town, trying to leave the past behind. Since “it happened”, Logan is a mess of guilt, pain, incomprehension, and inability to deal with his anger. Of course, “it” isn't revealed until almost the end of the book, so the reader is getting to know Logan without an understanding of why he is in so much pain. His feelings make the novel, at times, hard to read – and when you add in the cruel way that he is treated by his classmates, it's a mix of wincing and grimacing and having to put the book down to take a lap around the neighborbood so you don't lose your cool (or maybe that's just me?). This is What I Did is complicated and dark, and it's themes of bullying, abuse, and trauma/PTSD mean that it will be too much for middle graders. But for more mature readers, especially those that devour novels about overcoming trauma and feeling like an outsider, it will be a good fit. #bookreview #mentalhealth
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