4 out of 4 stars
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Adrian Kenton opens his autobiographical book with a rather philosophical musing: “Is there anything good about mental illness? We’re told not. It’s all negative and negative is bad”. Negative kills. It nearly killed him one day, when he stood in the bathroom with a razor in his hand. But there was something positive (or weird, as he called it) that crossed his mind. Before committing suicide, he thought he could eat a “Jammie-dodger biscuit”. He ate four and by the time he was munching on the fourth biscuit, he knew that his mission was not only to live, but also campaign for people who, like him, were on the edge between life and death. He gathered his thoughts, his arguments and his accusations in the book Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today.
Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today is a very controversial but brutally honest book written on the themes of mental illness, depression, suicide, mental health care and politics. It is mainly about politics and how the people in power address the issues related with mental health. He focuses on the UK government`s approach towards the mental health care because “we rightly look for it [the government] for protection”. Do we have it? Adrian Kenton thinks no, and I agree with his many arguments. My only criticism of his attack on the government is that he had targeted the government, which is no longer in power. It had created a sense of déjà vu as I was reading the book, and that had somehow decreased the level of my irritation towards the “Mansion of Uncommon” and the “Palace of Lordy-Lords” (the House of Common and the House of Lords). Nevertheless, as I mentioned above, Adrian Kenton had his point when he attacked the politicians. They will survive. Ordinary people, who suffer from the lack of the government protection, might not.
Kenton also confronts the whole society with its negative social attitude towards people with mental health difficulties. The attitude, he argues, is created by social media in the UK and across the world. If you are weak, you have no place in our strong society. He blames capitalism as the system that promotes that negative social attitude. Again, I agree with many of his arguments, but the problem is there is no better society than capitalist democracy in the world. It has not been created yet.
The book is controversial, angry and sometimes a little chaotic, but eventually I liked it. I liked the language Kenton used throughout the book. I have to warn the potential readers that Kenton often employs the words that are unlikely to be found in a respectable dictionary. But his language is suitable for his arguments. And I have to say that Adrian Kenton is a brilliant writer. His figurative language is outstanding. Above I had mentioned the “Mansion of Uncommon” and the “Palace of Lordy-Lords”. But there were many more metaphors and similes I found in the book that had made me laugh first, then think and reflect on them. To demonstrate what I mean, I will give you the chance to hear the author himself. Here is a direct quote from his book: “We know the reality is layered. The apparent reality that we face every day; a consciousness of the reality behind, or around, how everyday events turn out; realities we cannot possibly know and our personal and internal reality. For the more honest, it's spaghetti rather than lasagne. But we prefer lasagne generally. Spaghetti, too messy.” I am still not sure to whom I belong – to spaghetti or to lasagne.
Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today is not an easy or entertaining reading. I can only recommend it to the serious readers who do not mind some vicious language when they want to hear about our reality. At first, I didn’t like the book. Then I accepted it. Finally, I felt privileged to having read it. I will give Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today four out of four stars. But bear in mind – this book is not for everybody.
Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today
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