How To Make Friends With The Dark – Kathleen Glasgow – HarperCollins AU – Published 1 April 2019
It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.
Here is what happens when your mother dies.
That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.
Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.
How To Make Friends With The Dark is an honest look at the journey of grief, complicated and messy, as well as the variety of conditions and struggle for normalcy faced by children who lose a parent or are removed from unsafe living conditions. It is a delicately crafted novel, unflinching and considered.
Tiger and her mother are a unit – it’s them against the world. Things might be tight and Tiger might chafe against the close rein her mother keeps her on, but everything is okay, or at least sort of, when they are together. But when her mother suddenly dies, Tiger is thrown into a whirlpool of foster homes, halfway houses and uncertainty. She battles unrelenting grief and can only liken it to standing on the edge of a black hole ready to swallow her up. As family secrets are revealed, she questions if she ever really knew her mother, or what she can expect from life now that everything that she knows has been stolen from her.
How To Make Friends With The Dark is a long novel. I suggest setting aside a good portion of time to savour its measured pace. I think the pacing reflects the journey of grief – there is no rushing it, no hurrying or moving forward before one is ready.
Friendship connections, connection over shared grief and understanding, shared circumstances – Tiger encounters many people as she is moved from place to place and each play an important role in the story.
The tragic circumstances and sad reality of foster care is authentically portrayed in this book. Glasgow does a good job of highlighting the bad and the good, those burned out by the work, those who shouldn’t be part of the system, who give it a bad name, and those who give so much, who care and do what they can in a broken world.
How To Make Friends With The Dark is poignant and will stay with readers long after the last page is read.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Grief, foster care, depression, death, mother-daughter relationships, bullying, high school, friendship, home, living, sisters, family.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Drug references. References to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. References to violence and abuse. Coarse language, f*** (22), sh** (62), sl** (1), as***** (4), cr** (4), di** (2).
Published: 15 April 2019 by HarperCollins AU and Delacorte Press.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 432 pages.