BOOK REVIEW: Dear Stranger

Dear Stranger

If you’re anything like me and you struggle with your mental health then you will identify with having a battle in your head and the feeling of frustation every time you see a happy and glowing person. How is it possible to be that happy? What do they have that I don’t? It’s very easy to feel discontent but not understand why or how to fix the problem. Sometimes it can feel like everything is going wrong in life, like the whole world is conspiring against you; everyone looks so happy and you’re not. Happiness can be hard to feel and obtain, but Dear Stranger might help you to re-evaulate what happiness is.

*****

Dear Stranger is published in aid of the mental health charity, Mind with profits from the book going to the charity (at least £3 for every sold). It’s a wonderful book for anyone that is going through a hard time and/or struggles with their mental health. It includes a collection of letters written by some notable authors, bloggers and Mind ambassadors such as Arianna Huffington, Marian Keyes and Caitlin Moran to an imagined stranger.

With the majority of the letters I felt like I was being personally spoken to, which was a really nice feeling. It was like the book was on my side. The tone of most of the voices were kind; I felt like they wanted to reach out and help me by imparting their words of wisdom. For me, it felt like the voices were collectively saying, “You’re not alone. It’s not unusual to struggle to feel happy. I’m hear for you, I care about you and understand your struggle.”

The book made me re-think the way I think about some things. I learnt that its not possible to be happy all the time and that our happiness comes from the small things like a cup of tea or spending time with family.

It also imparted that we don’t get our happiness from other people – we have to create our own happiness and that suffering and going through hard times is part of the human experience. I used to blame myself when things went wrong and as someone that believes in karma would wonder what I had previously done wrong, but some letters in this book made me realise that horrible things do randomly happen and it’s how you deal with it that matters. As the comedian Francesca Martinez states in her letter, (which is one of my favourites), “A pain-free life doesn’t exist. And if that’s what you’re after try not to love.”

For me, the book was hugely comforting. It was reassuring to know that other people had had smiliar thought patterns to me and also encountered difficulties in life, but got through it. I think it’s great how some suprising voices were chosen for this book, such as Richard Branson. As he outwardley appears as someone that is rich and successful with no worries, so it was reassuring to find that he had faced some struggles throughout life.

I often feel disillusioned with the world and struggle to think there’s much good out there. But the letters in this book reminded me that there are kind people out there who care and understand.

If you struggle with your mental health or even just to feel happy, its important to know that you’re not alone. There’s no magic solution, but this book will provide so much comfort to you.

Dear Stranger, published by Penguin UK.

If you’ve read Dear Stranger I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Or if you want a book recommendation then tweet me @Anna_Fearon or leave a comment below.

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