It was frightening because 16-year-old Kai receives a handwritten letter from her beloved older sister, Jen, in the mail, telling her that if Kai is reading the note, Jen is dead.
“Kai Bear, I don’t expect you to understand this, but I’m not scared of death. The alternative is too painful. That pain is over now,” she writes.
And Kai, just like her parents and Jen’s friends, had no idea, no inkling, that Jen was suffering from depression or any other form of mental illness. Outwardly, it seemed, she had it all together. Inwardly, apparently, she was the exact opposite, writing to Kai that she was finally at peace and pain free.
And that is what is frightening about Just A Normal Tuesday because how are you supposed to help someone if you don’t know they are suffering?
Much like Kai who just wanted to understand why her sister killed herself, I, too, wanted to know the same. How can you help someone if they don’t asked to be helped?
After her sister’s death, Kai begins a downward spiral, self-medicating and lashing out. Her parents decide to send her to a camp for grieving teens, which she initially resists. Eventually, she shares her feelings with her fellow teens, who understand what she is going through and help her move forward.
I found the camp really interesting and incredibly sad, considering the losses the teens in Kai’s group have had to live through. But while a number of them resist help, they eventually realize in order to get something out of the camp, they need to put something in. They need to ask for help.
As a side note, according to the author, camps for grieving teens do exist both in Canada and the U.S.
Note: In Canada, there is a fabulous program called the Kids Help Phone, a free counselling service for kids.
A copy of this book was provided by KCP Loft (Kids Can Press) for an honest review.