The Boy Between – Amanda Prowse & Josiah Hartley

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.

Book Information: Print Length: 316 pages. Publisher: Little A. Publication Date: 1 November 2020

Josiah Hartley

Josiah Hartley is 23 and lives in an isolated farmhouse in the West Country, but close enough to Bristol to enjoy its music scene. He is an animal lover and servant to two French Bulldogs. Equally happy at a music festival or watching rugby with his mates, he likes the outdoor life and with Devon only a short drive away often heads to the sea to surf and sit on the beach watching the sun go
down. After two stints at The University of Southampton and The University of Bristol and one unsuccessful suicide attempt Josh decided to write about his descent into mental illness and the depression that has 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’s a book of reflection, raw, honest and full of hope: the proof being that Josh is still here and now excited about what comes next. He is ready to catch any opportunities that life throws his way, quite a thing for someone who only 3 years ago was ready to disappear from the face of the earth… to all those who might find themselves in a similar position Josh says, “if you are thinking or have thought that suicide might be the best option, I am proof that there is a life to be lived after depression and a life to be lived with depression – though it might not always feel like it. Don’t give up. Talk it through, write it down, run, dance, read, paint, sleep, play sport, do yoga, sit in a chair, walk in a park! Do whatever you need to and wait it out until the demon is off your back and the darkness passes. Things can and often do get better. Don’t delete yourself. DON’T DO THAT. Don’t wipe out what just might be a fantastic future. The world is big. The possibilities infinite. Know that the world is better with you in it. It’s a shit hard struggle – probably the hardest you will ever face, but you can do it. You can! When you are between a dark and light place, between despair and joy, when you are deciding whether to stay or whether to go, hold on. Please hold on. Hang in there. Just one more more day and one more day and then one more…”

My Review.

The Boy Between is a collaboration between best-selling author Amanda Prowse and her 23 year old son Josh and is a true account of Josh’s depression, suicide attempts and mental health battle and the debilitating effect it had on his life and his family’s.

When I read true stories, memoirs or biographies I always feel uncomfortable reviewing the book, because this is their story, their truth, their feelings and emotions and who the hell am I to judge or pass comment? Therefore this isn’t a review of the writing, the story, the plotline… it’s about how this book made me feel.

I’m a mother, a wife, a sister, an aunt, a daughter and have also suffered with anxiety and depression for most of my adult life. Whilst I am fortunate enough that the drugs “do work” for me, I am very aware of those times when everything felt grey and a dark cloud of doom was hanging over my head following me from room to room, so reading Josh’s chapters and hearing him describe how the depression took over his life was something I could relate to.

I mentioned that I am a mother, to two young men (age 19 and 22), one of whom is also at University hundreds of miles away from home and started his University life (and first time away from home) right in the middle of the pandemic. We had those phone calls, regularly, for the first 4 weeks, struggling, crying, wanting to come home, feeling alone, isolated with no support from the University whatsoever. As parent’s we didn’t know what to do… make him come home or insist he stays there, fully aware of the statistics of suicide in young men and powerless to do anything due to the Lockdown. So when I was reading Mandy’s side of the side, this was resonating loud and clear because this is exactly what I was going through – the chirpy chats, the constant checking up, the guilt and questioning of my actions and what I thought he needed vs what he actually needed.

This brave and brutally raw look at depression from both sides hit me hard and brought back so many powerful feelings and emotions from 2020. I am so grateful that Josh had the courage and ability to tell us his story warts and all and that Mandy has the connections to ensure that this important message can be shared worldwide.

This is a book for everyone, because we all know someone who struggles with worry, anxiety or life in general, and it’s not always the quiet ones, often it’s the loud ones covering their emotions with fake smiles. Everyone should read this book because the world can be a scary place, but if you know there is someone in your corner, someone who cares and wants to help, it does get easier.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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