Coming Home by Sharon McGuinness
Regularly on My Little Bookcase we feature books that are fun and light-hearted. Rarely do I publish posts about topics that are raw or difficult. Likewise, many authors shy away from writing about difficult topics.
But the reality is that one in five people will experience depression at some point in their lives, and many of these people have children. Life can be difficult for children with a parent who suffers from a mental illness such as depression. It can be scary, uncertain and confusing.
Sharon McGuiness has bravely drawn on her own difficult and heartbreaking experience to write a book for children, in the hope that she can help them understand why their parents may appear sad and distant. She also visits My Little Bookcase to share some strategies to help children of parents who experience depression.
Launched in October 2012, Coming Home gently describes the ebbs and flows of depression: the dark moments and the warm moments that a sufferer might experience. Sharon and illustrator, Shannon Melville, use the garden as a symbol of these contrasting periods.
Sharon’s gentle and carefully selected words describe the body language and behaviour of Gemma’s dad; of looking but not seeing, of being hunched and slumped, of staring, of disappearing.
Does he care about me?
Why doesn’t Dad want to play with me anymore?
Did I do something wrong?
These are some of the questions Gemma asks about her dad, who suffers from depression. She seeks answers from her mum, who tells her to keep supporting her dad.
Gemma continues to talk, laugh, dance, play music and sit with her dad until the colour comes back into his world.
Shannon Melville’s illustrations are touching. They are incredibly life-like, and show the emotions of the characters through their facial features, hands and body language. Her illustrations begin in black and white, and colour slowly begins to creep in as Gemma’s father ‘comes home’.
Author: Sharon McGuinness
Illustrator: Shannon Melville
Publisher: Wombat Books, October 2012