Rating: 1 star
Headline: A strangely pessimistic-toned approach to self-help
Life coach Emma Lou Parker turns to writing in this new self-help guide, A Teen’s Essential Guide to Social Anxiety Relief. The target demographic of this book are teenagers and young adults who struggle with mental health conditions such as anxiety and stress.
The book is broken down into five chapters and includes physical stress reducing activities and recommendations on improving mental health and outlook. According to Parker, reducing anxiety is not a ‘one and done’ activity, in fact readers are actively reminded at every turn that the path to self-improvement will be filled with setbacks and slip-ups. And this is where I struggle. The core tone of voice in this book is very pessimistic.
I fully appreciate mental health is a sensitive topic and one to be approached in the right way, but even with one glance at some of the chapter sub-topics you very quickly identity a theme. “Stop the negative thoughts, stop telling yourself you can’t change, stop predicting you will fail”, there are another three “stops” in this chapter before you reach the topic “acceptance”. After this particularly downbeat chapter I found myself reaching for my emergency stash of chocolate just to lift my spirits.
Tone of voice is made all the harder to stomach by Parker’s choice to isolate readers by referring to them as “you”. Separating younger readers in such a way only makes the author come across as preachy, when anxiety is a very common mental health condition affecting millions of people (of all ages) globally. Reading this you would think otherwise. I felt uncomfortable with the number of times Parker’s activities asked young readers to write down traumatic events, perhaps not considering how this could be quite triggering without the right support.
Other minor but amounting to significant issues, starting with the web-links. Anything that encourages readers to jump to content outside the book is generally not good practice, even in eBooks. Write it well enough in your own words with references or cut it out altogether. Grammar and spelling are off in places, the drawings, while pretty, are hard to read (and I have good eyesight) and, arguably worst of all, there are no page numbers. A contents page is pointless if there are no numbers to match up.
My only hope is that Parker is able to absorb this constructive feedback when moving onto her next project. The passion is there, the writing ability, not quite yet.
Reedsy Discovery Review: AEB Reviews – “A Teen’s Essential Guide to Social Anxiety Relief”
Purchase Link: “A Teen’s Essential Guide to Social Anxiety Relief” (Amazon)