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It’s #worldmentalhealthday. What are you reading? . . . What does anxiety feel like? What does it sound like? What does it do to your thoughts, your body, your appetite? For as much as mental health is in the news, we still don’t know how to talk about it in a constructive way. And for women of color, who are so often marginalized just for being themselves, finding compassion and treatment must be even more difficult. Diverse literature has come a long way in inviting empathy, but even in this blossoming field, mental health and chronic illness are still taboo. For this, Sparrow is a gift. Sparrow is shy like a hurricane is a bit of rain – it doesn’t even begin to describe the tumult. Her school librarian gave her a sanctuary to hide in and a place where she felt she belonged, but when Mrs. Wexler suddenly passes away, Sparrow feels like she has nothing left. And that’s how her teachers find her standing on the edge of the roof one day, amongst the birds. They assume that she’s attempting suicide, and whisk her off to the hospital in an ambulance. But Sparrow’s quiet and sorrowful appearance is a world apart from the raging, poetic, colorful self inside of her head. In three parts, the novel takes us through Sparrow’s journey to understand and share her struggles with anxiety with therapy, family, and music playing major roles. I won’t call what Sparrow goes through a recovery, because pretending that there is a “better” in the world of chronic illness is nothing but disrespectful. But her journey, and the hard work that it takes, is something that I can’t wait to share with my middle school readers. “Too often girls are told that they can’t, that they shouldn’t, that they should be quiet and be pretty. […] Each of you is here because there’s something in you that’s dying to get loud, even if it doesn’t have the words.” A heartfelt thank you to author @sarahmoonbooks for sharing Sparrow with us, and for helping readers to take an extra step towards understanding and destigmatizing mental health. #bookreview #weneeddiversebooks #mentalhealth #ireadya #youngadult #feminism #bookstagram