At first glance, Letters from Rapunzel, by debut novelist Sara Lewis Holmes, seems like just my kind of book. Contemporary fiction. A strong-willed, smart female main character. Lots of humor. Even a discussion of word origins.
But. (You knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?) But … it deals with one of those “serious topics” … depression.
I know depression is an important subject. I know it can have devastating effects on those who struggle with it, as well as on their families and friends. I know it’s something kids need to be able to learn about … something that should be written about and talked about and brought out into the open.
But. I don’t want to read about it.
Along come this Sara Lewis Holmes person, with her first published book ever, and she tricks me into reading a novel about something I do not want to read about.
Its breezy references to fairy tales. Its distinctive voice. Its unusual format (a series of letters). Its offbeat observations on life. Its suspenseful climax. Even its sweet, girly cover (OK, that’s probably not entirely Sara’s fault, but couldn’t she have requested that the artist make it darker, more sinister?)
The point is, in the final analysis, all of these wonderful qualities constitute a massive disguise for what is really a discussion of an important topic that made me think and possibly even reconsider some of my preconceptions about mental illness!
By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late. It was like a charm, a spell. I had gotten too far into the book and could not stop reading. So let this be a warning to you. If you prefer to avoid “serious” topics, do not fall for this book!