Book review: Project Semicolon by Amy Bluel

*** Trigger warnings: Suicide, suicidal thoughts and mental illness ***

Format: Uncorrected proof
Publisher: Harper
Links:Amazon UK  | Goodreads


Review: This doesn’t really have a blurb so I’ll just explain myself what Project Semicolon is all about. Basically, Project Semicolon is a suicide awareness organisation, founded in 2013 by Amy Bluel and is dedicated to preventing suicide. The idea of the semicolon is that in a novel, when an author uses a semicolon, it signifies that the sentence isn’t over and using a semicolon in this instance is to signify that your own personal story isn’t over, especially if you’ve been affected by severe mental health, suicidal thought or suicide attempts. This book is a collection of short paragraphs and short essays from people all over the world with a whole spectrum of mental health conditions and stories where they share what they’ve been through, their darkest times and how they’ve come through the other side.Now, this all sound very uplifting and hopeful but I was sent this book as a review copy, just like any other fiction book I get sent so I’m going to review it as such. This isn’t a book you need to read from start to finish or in any particular order, which I like. You can pick it up, flick to a random page and go from there. And the stories range from half a page, to 4 pages, so none of them are overly long and I think that helps the reading experience. Obviously it was down to each individual writer how long their essay was going to be. I get the idea behind turning this into a book with all these stories in one place, I do. But I’m not sure if it worked for me, personally.

Despite the fact I utterly admire all of these people who wrote in this book with all the stuff they went through – which can be very dark at times – I couldn’t help but feel that the stories focused more on the “bad” and the dark times rather than the “getting through the other side and continuing your story and injecting hope into everyone that relates” side of it, which is the impression I was under when I found out about this book. I’m not a stranger to sharing my problems and I don’t for one second believe anyone should skirt around difficult issues just to get to the light and the rainbow at the other side. They need to be spoken about but I thought this book would leave me feeling… enlightened almost. But it didn’t.

Because of how much good this organisation does, I almost feel bad for not giving it a glowing review. I have no doubt that this book will help a whole ton of people and I hope that majority of people who read it feel the complete opposite in their reading experience and opinions of Project Semicolon than I did. I’ve always loved the Semicolon tattoo idea and the meaning behind it. Being in a pretty okay headspace right now I wasn’t affected too much by the stories in the book but had I not have been or had I given this book to someone going through suicidal thoughts or any other severe mental health issue, well, put it this way… I wouldn’t. I’m sorry I didn’t love this more.

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52 thoughts on “Book review: Project Semicolon by Amy Bluel

  1. I agree about the fantastic work that this Project does, and I definitely love the symbolism of the semicolon, but I too would be a bit wary of giving a book like this to someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a bad period for their mental health – it sounds like it would reinforce the way that they’re feeling rather than attempting to lift them up and encourage them to keep going! Thank you for being entirely honest in your thoughts!

    Abbey 💓 http://www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

    • Yeah I totally agree, Abbey. I was really expecting more uplifting stories to be honest and whilst I’m under no illusion that all mental illness ends with a light at the end of the tunnel, I think a book like this which is open to the public to buy at their own free will, it’s could potentially be damaging? Thanks for your comment! 💓

    • Thank you very much! It was difficult because of the subject matter I kinda felt like I had to say something good but at the end of the day, it’s the book I’m reviewing not the organisation and my opinions of the book have no reflection on my opinions of the organisation (: xxx

  2. I love reading books about MH so I think that this book would be right up my street, but it’s a shame that you found this book so negative and not what you thought it would be! 😦

  3. As someone who has been through this, and fortunately come out the other side I am so interested in reading this. But you’re right, this probably would not have been best for me while I was going through my really dark times.
    Anna x

  4. I’m glad I saw your review. As you say, the project does some great work but if it concentrates more on the darker side then at this moment in time it probably wouldn’t be best for me to read! I’m only just coming out of a dark period and it would more than likely drag me back. Good, honest review 🙂

  5. It’s a shame this you’ve found this book sounds so negative as it sounds like it could have been a fantastic read. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts! Xx

  6. This organisation sounds amazing and I’ve seen a lot of people talking about the Semicolon which I think is a great symbol. I don’t think for one second that you should feel bad for not loving this – not everything is for everyone and Its nice to see an honest review!

    Sarah | http://www.sazsinclair.com xx

  7. I don’t think you need to be sorry for not enjoying it as much as you thought you would. Everyone will feel different about reading a book with so many stories about people’s dark times in it, and I personally think I would find it a tricky read. I think it might have been nicer if they’d split it into parts, with different sections for peoples writing from different phases of recovery, theme, etc.

    • Yeah possibly! It’s just some of the stories were so short that I’m not sure how that’d work. Hmm it’s a funny one this. I’ve read a few other reviews from people which have said the same thing, that they wouldn’t have given the book to someone who was battling suicidal thoughts. And it makes me wonder because the whole charity is to support people who have been through that sorta stuff!

  8. This sounds like an amazing book, but so so raw! I agree, it’s always so hard to read the ‘bad’, and I would probably struggle to read through it myself! Maybe that’s the shock factor they were after by telling such epic truths! I always wonder if it’s more helpful to hear the ‘coming through it’ rather than reading the ‘bad’!

    Claudia xo

    • Exactly… it’s a funny one and one that everyone would react differently to depending on their own experiences. Personally, I’ve never experienced suicide or anything remotely similar to anything they spoke about so I can’t relate on that level. But meh… I don’t know! xxx

  9. This sounds like an interesting book. I have never read such a book but I think i’d struggle if it only focuses on the bad as you said xx corinne

  10. I think this is something which I am going to have to pick up and give a read as it does actually seem my cup of tea. Unfortunately, I am sorry that you did not love this book.

  11. I’d say this is probably better for those who don’t understand mental health? Those of a sound mind/stable if that makes sense? I can totally understand why you didn’t like it though, although I still might give it a go 🙂

    sophieannetaylor.com

  12. Ahh, thank you for writing such an honest review. I hate it when people beat around the bush – you got straight to the point, and that is something I can appreciate. It sounds like a book I would have loved when I was 15-17, however, now I like my depressing reads to focus on more positives than negatives; I think I am getting old. Hahaha.

    Kirstiekinsblogs

  13. I really love that you’ve been so honest about this. I know that if I read a book focused on how hard life can be while I’m not in a good headspace, it would affect me so negatively. I do love the idea of the project and the tattoos are lovely, but you’re right, a book with some kind of positive resolution would be good!
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

  14. I’ve heard a lot about this project and i do think this book is a good idea but i have to agree about giving it to someone who’s maybe not in a good place x

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