For the uninformed, Hannah Hart is a YouTube celebrity, but her journey started rather accidentally when she made a video to cheer up a friend many years ago, which ended up becoming a viral hit.
This book is her memoir and traces her story from when she was a kid, all the way to college and beyond.
As a child, she grew up with her mentally unstable mother, but was a happy kid growing up, unaware of that fact, together with her elder sister. Their parents were divorced and she briefly had a stepfather who was a great influence, but sadly he left after a while, unable to take the pressures of the unpredictable wife.
She visited her father regularly and he was a staunch Christian, part of a conservative cult. That's how she came to struggle between her sexual orientation and her faith. It came to a head in college where she found a girlfriend and eventually accepted that she is gay.
I found the chapter Shadowboxer, a defining read for me. Like her, I wrestle with my faith and sexuality (details over here) and found her stories strangely comforting. It helps to know that I am not alone in this.
She also talks honestly about the subject of her own depression and anxiety which also spoke to me. I think people don't realise the impact a celebrity has when he or she reveals that they too, like normal people, have mental health issues. For me, dealing with bipolar disorder has been a rollercoaster ride (details found here) and books of the subject have been rare. So having someone, anyone, talk about any mental health issue candidly and without shame has been very reassuring. Thank you Hannah.
Further in, she deals with self-harm. It is a delicate subject to talk about and she discusses it openly and honestly. I applaud her for that.
Near the end of the book, she tackles the problem facing individuals in America of sending their loved ones to mental health care institutions. People there face difficulty admitting them into those institutions for a variety of reasons and the sick person is unable to get the quality care and attention that he or she requires. This is the system she fought against and she provides a helpful list of readings and references.
I think that regardless of whether you are a fan of Hannah or not, this is a book everyone should read. You'll come away transformed.
I spoke briefly about my book in the YouTube video below: