Book Review: A Monster Ate My Mum
A Monster Ate My Mum – Jen Faulkner
Illustrated by Helen Braid
I so looked forward to receiving this book. I’ve often wondered how I’ll explain my depression and anxiety to Moo. She most certainly suffers at the hands of my short temper and has seen me cry. I’m not sure how I’ll deal with the guilt, but at least I now have a way to open up the channels of discussion about mental health issues with her.
The book is beautifully illustrated, capturing Moos attention. There are short bursts of rhyming text, so it’s easy to read (if you can get your voice past the lump in your throat). The first time I read this with my two year old daughter, I struggled to hold back tears towards the end. Perhaps I should have read it on my own first.
It depicts mental illness as ‘monsters’ that take away parts of the mother, but they’re not scary, just hungry. A perfect balance between an unwanted creature and being friendly enough not to spark fear. The idea that the monsters have ‘borrowed’ the mothers attributes (her smile, for example) is wonderful and offers comfort in knowing that the change isn’t a permanent one. The book pinpoints symptoms of post natal depression that readers will find familiar, the lack of smile, sleeping all day and being ‘snappy’ and delivers the message that mum will be back to her old self one day.
The young boy desperately asking the monsters what had happened to his mum was so poignant, “I want her back I want some fun. I want to see her smile my mum”, without being too upsetting for younger readers. The book ends with the boy being comforted with the knowledge that “it won’t be bad like this forever. She can and will one day get better.” This statement is beautifully touching (it had me welled up!) and a reminder to the parents reading that the difficult times will pass. Therapeutic for both the adult and child reader.
I would love to see this book in all settings, children’s centres, schools, nurseries and in homes up and down the country. Whether you’ve suffered with post natal depression or not, this is a great gateway to conversation about mental health issues. Perhaps we can raise a generation filled with understanding and empathy and end the stigma surrounding ill mental health.
The book is available to buy here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/jen-faulkner/a-monster-ate-my-mum/paperback/product-21305413.html;jsessionid=9B02255C55557C1C8B05874E85D6216A
Posted on November 18, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged anxiety, book review, depression, mental health, mental illness, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, post partum depression. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.