There is a trend in writing these days that casts female protagonists as unlikable and not relatable. Frankly, I am not a fan of this trend. And so it goes that with Dear Stephanie, I had very low expectations. If I am being honest, I will admit that I rolled my eyes when I read the description of this book.
But, like some wise person once said, never judge a book by its cover. I was completely floored by the quality of writing and the superb storytelling by author Mandi Castle. She masterfully blended humor with raw emotion to deliver a powerful story about the devastating effects of depression. Her choices in characters, plot, and circumstance are sheer brilliance as they force the reader to consider that human fallibility is not limited to class.
The story begins with a self-absorbed and uber privileged Paige Preston who wants to end her own life. When she fails to succeed Paige ends up in therapy and forced to deal with her inner turmoil. Through Paige’s affluence and beauty we see a masterful author revealing the smoke and mirror effects of privilege and how by judging what we see on the outside we can easily miss the crisis on the inside.
I should warn readers right now that if you suffer from depression or severe anxiety or have ever felt the pull of suicide ideation then you must tread carefully with this book for it dives deep into descriptions of depression and suicide in a manner that may be triggers.
Dear Stephanie is filled with unbelievably clever humor and remarkably honest description of grief given the taboo subject of mental illness. Castle bravely lifts the veil of depression and forces her characters and readers to reconsider their deeply held beliefs about class, privilege, beauty, and humanity through the effects of depression.
Did I mention that there is a sexy therapist? Oh yes, this book has true entertainment value as well.
This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it. Let’s hope Ms. Castle has more delightful literary surprises for us in the near future.