‘Girl in the Window’ by Penny Joelson – Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

See the world from another unique perspective in the thrilling new novel from the author of I Have No Secrets (a World Book Day title for 2018). 

Nothing ever happens on Kasia’s street. And Kasia would know, because her illness makes her spend days stuck at home, watching the world from her bedroom window. So when she sees what looks like a kidnapping, she’s not sure whether she can believe her own eyes . . . There was a girl in the window opposite – did she see something too? But when Kasia goes to find her she is told the most shocking thing of all. There is no girl. An eye-opening and compulsive page-turner for readers aged 12 and up.

My Review

This is very much on the junior end of the YA scale both story and plot-wise; plus the main character, Kasia, is only 14.

But!!!!

It packs an emotional punch because Kasia has a chronic illness. She suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome or M.E. and this book is brilliant for its informative representation of a young teenager with a chronic illness.

As someone who developed a longterm chronic illness as a young teenager myself this book truly struck an emotional chord with me. I loved the simplicity of the language used to describe what it’s like to be a teenager isolated at home while the rest of her world and friends seemingly pass her by.

If you want to know more about the day to day practicalities of living with a chronic illness then this book will certainly help you empathise with teenagers in that position.

You should also go read this short blog post called The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino as it explains what being fatigued and having limited energy really means for day to day living. I live my life according to The Spoon Theory, prioritising certain small tasks over others and resting up as much as I can before I get to leave the house for any number of excursions that to the majority of people are simple tasks that they don’t even give a second thought to.

What I love about ‘Girl in the Window’ is that it is so clearly written by someone who has experience of a chronic illness; M.E. in this instance.

Own voices novels like this are so important in letting the world know that people with invisible illnesses exist. That we are only unknown because our bodies frequently silence us. And the more the greater public know about invisible illness the more that those who are more energetically bodied can fight for us, can fight to help highlight the need for more scientific research in the areas of invisible illnesses.

Invisible illnesses aren’t glamorous in the traditional Hollywood glamorising of illnesses. Those of us with them aren’t here to inspire people with full health to breathe in the moment, live as if each day is your last while we quietly but in a most dignified manner (probably wrapped up on a beach at sunset) conveniently die around 2/3 of the way through the film or the book to make way for the happy ending for the main characters whom we’ve shown the real meaning of life to…. Screw that! I deserve my own happy ending thanks. Just cos I’m sick doesn’t mean my life is only here as a teaching tool for someone else. I like to think I have lots to offer the world in many other ways.
Invisible illnesses suck.
Being chronically ill sucks.
I have a disease that there isn’t a cure for, it greatly limits how I can live my life, prevents me from working….
But it’s not really gonna cause me to shuffle off this mortal coil anytime soon so I’m just gonna live for the next bunch of years in a crap-tonne of pain and suffering like I have for the last 2+ decades. And the world at large doesn’t really care.

So that’s why I like books like ‘Girl in the Window’. Anything that shines a light on those of us who live in the shadows goes some way to make me feel less alone. To know that my experience of life isn’t the only one out there. Like okay, the side mystery plot was a little predictable but god damn it this book deserves more readers and more praise because of the illness rep.

Read this book.
Support an own voices author.
And make people with life experiences like mine feel that our stories are worth telling and our lives are worth just as much as anyone else’s.

“No one sees me. I am a ghost. I am invisible. Life for me stopped still, one day – when I was not expecting it. Out there, I know that life goes on, that time moves forward, but it does so without me.”

Add this book to your Goodreads TBR here

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3 thoughts on “‘Girl in the Window’ by Penny Joelson – Book Review

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