Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I feel like I'm having a hard time giving an objective review of the writing in this one because of my expectations going into the book. I reread the publisher's summary and I don't think they necessarily got it wrong, I think the problem is more with me interpreting it the way I wanted it to be. I thought the book would be very science-based. I was expecting studies on the brain chemistry of teenagers and the long-term effects of anti-depressant use. That's not what this book is about. It does start with the history of the development of anti-depressants, which was very useful, but it quickly moves into memoir/anecdotal territory. And as a memoir/summary of anecdotes, the book does a fine job. There's no criticism of the writing, it just wasn't what I was expecting and I was disappointed. Definitely not the author's problem, but it made it hard for me to enjoy the writing. But like I said, for a memoir, the writing was fine and the science included at the beginning is well-cited. I think the author succeeded at what she was trying to do.
Like I said above, I found the book less entertaining once I realized it wasn't about what I thought it was about. It was still a good read, though. I would still be interested in reading a more science-based take on the topic, but Sharpe expresses some of the very important issues regarding medicating teens for depression that I think go unnoticed. She certainly brought up several issues that I hadn't considered, but that make sense. I never went through a time of wondering whether or not I would be the same person if I hadn't started taking Prozac at 16, but I can see why it would be such a concern for many and I appreciate that aspect being introduced.
I was somewhat disappointed that there was less science and fewer empirical studies in the book, but I also got a lot out of it as a memoir. On the one hand, I agree with the author that Americans are over-medicated, especially with anti-depressants, and in situations where it isn't necessary. On the other hand, I feel like a complete hypocrite for feeling that way because I'm on anti-depressants and have been off and on since I was sixteen. And they've made a HUGE difference in my life. One huge thing that Sharpe makes a point of is the importance of therapy in conjunction with anti-depressant use. Rather than just prescribing anti-depressants to everyone who is feeling sad, it's important for psychologists, counselors, and physicians to meet and talk for more than just 20 minutes to determine if anti-depressants are an acceptable approach.
I recommend giving this one a try, but with the caveat that you know it's mainly personal experience and opinion from the beginning. I saw some other reviewers mention that they also were looking for more science, but if you know from the beginning that this is more of a memoir, I think it's a good read and brings up some important topics for consideration regarding the medication of teenagers.
I received a copy of this book for review from Haper Perennial.
Posted by Julie G at 12:42 PM