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Surviving Me - Jo Johnson

Unbound Digital 304pp £8.79 paperback (also available on Kindle) ISBN-13: 978-1789650617

One of my closest friends committed suicide. So the arrival of this novel, Surviving Me by Joanne Johnson, was particularly timely. Joanne is a Christian psychologist and this, her first work of fiction, focuses on a man whose life spirals downwards to the point where ‘ending it all’ is imminent. While you may already have decided that this is not a book for you, let me give you two reasons for reading it. 

First, it is a good book. Joanne writes extremely well and brings a high degree of psychological insight and authenticity to her characters and situations. The individuals in the book are realistic, their failings clearly identifiable with, and her skilfully plotted story pulls the reader along a compelling and long journey through darkness and out into light.

Although Christian elements are woven into the book, they stay largely in the background and the focus is ultimately more on the psychological than the spiritual.

Second, this is not just a good book, it’s also a valuable book. It’s an alarming fact that the top killer of men between the ages of 30 and 50 in UK is suicide and, as Surviving Me describes without preaching, because men can easily wear masks to hide their pain, the warning signs can often lie undetected by even close family members and friends.

The lesson of the book is that those who are close to men, whether in the context of family or work, ought to be more sensitive to those subtle signs that may indicate a hidden despair.

Some books change lives: this might save them.

Rev Canon J.John


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