The Boy Between by Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley

My enormous thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for The Boy Between by Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley. I am privileged to share my review today.

Amanda Prowse has been a regular part of Linda’s Book Bag and normally I would share all the posts separately. This doesn’t feel appropriate to me today because The Boy Between is very much a book that belongs to Amanda AND Josh so here is a single link where you can find interviews about, and reviews of, Amanda’s writing.

The Boy Between is published by Little A and is available for purchase here.

The Boy Between

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.

My Review of The Boy Between

A personal account of depression.

To attempt a review of The Boy Between seems at best foolish and possibly, unintentionally, totally crass. Either way, I know my words will be inadequate in conveying what an important book The Boy Between is. What I really want to say is that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, should read The Boy Between. If they did, the world would be a better place, greater understanding of depression would be achieved and fewer families would find themselves suffering terribly tragedy. The Boy Between is the voice, through Josh, of every person whose depression had led them to dark, impenetrable, stultifying places and, through Amanda, of every friend and family member who has watched helplessly and impotently as that depression takes hold.
The Boy Between‘s non-fiction account of Josh’s depression and desire to die is brilliantly presented. Alternating chapters showing Josh and Mandy’s perspectives give a mesmerising insight into their lives in a structure that leads the reader through their experiences with such intensity that at times is is almost unbearable. This is an intimate portrait of a family in crisis that will resonate with readers across the globe. Those of us who have experienced depression at various levels, or who love someone who has, cannot fail to be moved to tears on several occasions by the raw, humane and affecting accounts presented here. I admit I found it hard reading Josh and Amanda’s words at times because the resonance was huge.
However, The Boy Between might be about depression but it isn’t depressing. Rather, it provides relief for those who have similar experiences in knowing they are not alone, that there is a possibility of life and happiness even when the illness is at its worst. And one of the great strengths of The Boy Between is in illustrating that depression is an illness, not merely a life choice of the inadequate or lazy as is so often assumed. There is an extended metaphor of a broken arm that I think clarifies attitudes and mental illness far better than any text book or documentary ever could. Alongside the personal accounts, the carefully researched factual data adds a terrifying layer of authenticity too. On the day I finished reading The Boy Between, social media was abuzz with the fact that another young man of 17 had taken his own life. I truly believe he could have been helped if those around him had had access to this book. I genuinely think The Boy Between is revolutionary in promoting understanding of depression.
Eloquent, authentic and moving The Boy Between is a book that has sadly never been more relevant, more required and more honest. I thought it was astounding. I want to place a copy into the hands of everyone I know. We all need The Boy Between. Just read it.

About Josiah Hartley

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…

About Amanda Prowse

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…

You can follow Amanda Prowse on Twitter @MrsAmandaProwse and visit her website here. You will also find her on Facebook.

All of Amanda Prowse’s wonderful writing is available here.

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