Title: The Bravest Word
Author: Kate Foster
Reviewer: Donna Dobson
“I’m embarrassed and ashamed and filled with the worst guilt I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m a a failure. And I don’t think the world needs people like me. Instead of dismissing that thought, I keep it there, in my head, lingering, taunting. The world doesn’t need me.” (P173-174)
A timely book, dealing with the issues of mental health in a young boy on the cusp of his first teenage years. Matt is a believable character, with supportive parents and good friends. But Matt is tired, all the time, and has lost interest in school, sport and friends. Every day activities now fill him with dread, leaving him feeling ill and teary. He feels lost, alone and useless.
Running parallel to Matt’s story, is Cliff, a dog who Matt and his dad discover abandoned and abused. Caring for Cliff, Matt learns that dogs can suffer from anxiety and depression, and he begins to recognise the signs within himself. This leads Matt to the bravest word…help. A sensitive, insightful read, particularly for 12-13 year olds, teachers and parents.
Similar books are “The Way of the Dog” by Zana Fraillon, “Talking to Alaska” by Anna Woltz and Laura Watkinson, ”August & Jones” by Pip Harry, “OC Daniel” by Wesley King, and “Runt” by Craig Silvey.