By Nick DeMarco
The Opposite Of Music, written by Janet Ruth Young, is a novel I feel is worth picking up, as it brings a topic to light that is consistently shrouded in darkness-depression. The young adult novel tells of a tight knit family who has to deal with the unfortunate event of the father succumbing to depression, which changes everything for the family.
Initially everyone, including the father, is in denial about the depression, but a psychiatrist visit changes all of that. This book shows a lot of the common misconceptions about those who suffer with depression, from the daughter who believes all victims of depression kill themselves, to Billy, the son, and the narrator in this story, talking about it like it can be commonly cured.
Throughout the story, the family is faced with a lot of the same issues you’d see from a family in that situation, the doubting of medicines and doctors, and more notably, the decline of energy and ambition in their own independent lives, from the mother taking so many days off from work she fears getting fired, the daughter becoming so paranoid with her father’s illness, she begins “suicide proofing” the house, and the son losing sleep and slacking off in his classes.
After several psychiatrist visits, the family decides that they need to start their own treatment plan as it relates to their loved one, and they begin researching various conventional and unconventional ways of combating the depression, from a light screen to adding more rare fruits, vegetables, and nuts to his diet, all of which get varied results, but nothing really stands out as changing the situation at all.
Depression has a way of altering relationships between people, and that is quite evident in this book, most notably the relationship between husband and wife. There are several incidents in the story where I feel that I am looking in on almost a closed up conversation between the two leaders of the family, witnessing the trials of someone struggling to break free from the pains of mental illness, while the other struggles to hold onto whatever strength they have left to use in benefit of their spouse’s health.
Obviously, the relationship between parent and children is also very prominent in the book, but I feel that the greater the challenge becomes, the greater the bond between the afflicted father and his two children becomes, especially as it relates to Billy. Initially in the story, this bond is not evident, but as I got into the later plots and subplots of the book, I saw this truly shine through.
Depression is an illness that affects millions of people each year, and psychologists are constantly reporting new kinds of depression in new demographics of people each year. This is a story that is very close to me due to my own experiences with mental illness, and a lot of the feelings I am familiar with are in this story.
If you are looking for an interesting story with solid characters and an endearing piece for under 20 dollars, then pick up The Opposite of Music at your local bookstore.