Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: Rae by Chelsea Rae Swiggett

GoodReads Summary: When you're fourteen and trying to deal with the highs, lows, traumas, and humiliations that go along with being a high school freshman, having severe anxiety can become all consuming. Chelsea Rae Swiggett's anxiety has affected every area of her life—school, family, friendships, and romance—ultimately pushing her to lose her voice, withdrawal from everyday life and school, and develop an eating disorder.

The sounds of planes flying overhead could spark a panic attack and something as simple as being called on in class could push her over the edge, convinced that everyone was judging her, mocking her. Faking sickness so she could stay home became her only solution, since she'd rather do anything than face the reality of what happened behind the school's double doors. Rae tells a story all-too-many teens today relate to—what it feels like to see the world through a lens of constant debilitating fear, anxiety, and stress.

My Thoughts: I've been a blog lurker of Chelsea (The Page Flipper) for a long time and simply reading the title of her book filled me with a sense that I needed to read it. I think it was the work of a higher power that I won a copy of Rae through acontest, because I feel like she wrote this book about me, just with different names and places.

That's not possible, of course, but I'm serious.

I got about two chapters into Rae when she shredded my heart for the first time. All Chelsea does is describe kids doing kid things: making fun of weight, making fun of social mannerisms, and general crap-talking know, normal things that most human beings experience at least once in their lives. In fact, they're a daily occurrence in most middle schoolers' lives.

Some people can take it with a grain of salt.
Others feel it in the very depths of their bones.

Chelsea's words were doused and loaded with pain. This book hit home. When you read about a fictional character's struggles, you feel their pain, but you move on. They're fictional, after all. But knowing that a real-life person had these real-life feelings about real-life bullies... it's a different kind of pain. This book affected me big time, because I've been there and it triggered feelings I felt...heck, DECADES ago. It just goes to show that no matter how much you suppress those negative experiences, sometimes you take a piece of them with you for the rest of your life. It made me queasy to read about the things that were spoken amongst Chelsea's peers.

Rae addresses her social anxiety, intricately detailing the onslaught of fear she felt whenever she had to so much as say her name during attendance, or *gasp* give a public speech. These things may sound laughable to some, but it takes a monumental amount of guts to be able to put your feelings out there for all to read. I applaud her bravery and sharing her struggles and fears. It's inspiring and heartbreaking at the same exact time.

If you've ever struggled with anxiety, insecurity, bullying... read this book. If you haven't struggled with anxiety, insecurity, or bullying, read it anyway. This is a brief, but powerful look into the life of a girl trying to get by as quietly and peacefully as possible. I wish all teens could read this, both as a sign that words can and very often do hurt, and as a reassurance that they're not alone.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Series: Rae is a book in the Louder Than Words series.
Source: I won this book in a contest.
Published: HCI Teens, 168 pages (August 2, 2010)

Learn more about Chelsea: Blog | Goodreads | Twitter