As a veteran high school teacher who spent most of my career teaching English and Young Adult Literature, I feel there is a place in our society for more books like ERASE ME by T.S. Lowe. Mental Illness, in all its forms, has been considered a subject not to be discussed; not to be acknowledge by its victims, and thought of as a curse that must be hidden for fear of rejection by family, friends, and society as a whole.
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Since we now know that a large percentage of our population suffers from some form of Mental Illness, It is appropriate and proper that this topic should be the subject of new literary offerings. Not only can an enlightened student learn the scientific facts in the public press but can also glimpse the life of a sufferer through a novel such as ERASE ME. The emotions, the twisted thinking, the physical responses, and, of course, the resulting behaviors of one who suffers are well portrayed in this short book.
The reader of ERASE ME shares a portion of the life of the heroine, Jasmine, as we are taken back and forth, from her early teens to her senior year of high school.. Rather than giving us a linear, cause and effect, plot, Lowe shows us an episode from her character's past, then takes us forward to experience how the older Jaz was effected by the earlier event. In the end, the reader gains an understanding of the kinds of experiences that can impact a person and cause mental and emotional damage.
It seems quite apparent that the author has taken the good advice given by Professor Bhaer to Jo March in LITTLE WOMEN that it is always best to write about what you know. It is obvious to the reader that Lowe is intimately acquainted with Social Anxiety. Her descriptions of Jasmine's responses (physical, mental, and emotional) to situations and the other character's behaviors could only come from someone who had experienced them. It is an education for those of us who wish to understand.
My hope is that this small book will get people to open a dialogue that will help remove the stigma attached to Social Anxiety and other Mental Illnesses.
Certainly worth reading by an adult audience, as well as young adults. But the crude and vulgar language of some of the characters, though appropriate to the character, would not be recommended reading for children.
Most of all, ERASE ME is a good read with an enchanting, engaging, and sympathetic heroine and a cast of interesting supporting characters. In summary, this story is thought provoking, insightful. and satisfying.
Carolyn S. Painter, MEd, BFA, BFA, BS