The Boy Between, by Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley

This book published in 2020 is a memoir by both mother and son about the son’s (and family’s) journey through depression. The dedication of the book reads “My dedication is for all those who are living with depression. For all those who are thinking about or who have thought that suicide might be the best option. I am proof that there is a life to be lived after depression and a life to be lived with depression – though it might not always feel like it. Don’t give up. –  Josh”

Beautifully written, heart wrenching and poignant, this book tells the story of a young man who grows up in a loving household in the UK and was afforded many of life’s advantages. His mother recalls how smart and witty he was as a young child yet as the years passed problems surfaced at school. He began to encounter difficulties keeping up and was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. He also endured anxiety at an early age and recounts stories of bullying and embarrassing shame-evoked episodes by teachers in his early school years.

This narrative of his early life could have been that of any of thousands of children. Josh then begins to describe his successes as he matured, even saying his brain was at its best as he approached the end of his senior year and began the application process for university. And then without warning, he says, his brain “switched off” in his words.

This book is written with a back-and-forth style, one chapter by Amanda then one by Josh, as they share their personal perspective of this difficult illness; one living with it and one living it.

Book review by Susan Thigpen