Title: In the Sun
Author: Mixie Plum
Type: Fiction Novella
“Once the girls had been scooted off to school, I started thinking about my life again; I had to, what would happen once I started forgetting? Would I remember my husband? Kids? My parents? My friends? I had no idea what was going to happen.”
In the Sun is a novella which tackles head-on themes of mental health, and what it’s like to live with mental health struggles. The whole thing is written as a messy stream-of-consciousness which dives straight into the author’s mind. After receiving a devastating diagnosis, the protagonist, Phoebe, contemplates suicide, and what transpires in the book, is a deluge of thoughts as she experiences this, flipping between past and present, she tries to deal with what life has thrown at her.
*Full Disclaimer: This book is very triggering for anyone with depression, or who has struggled with it in the past.*
This book definitely jumps between highs and lows, at quite a quick pace. The stream-of-consciousness allowed a lot of humour, but also very dark moments too. This oxymoronic narrative made the whole novella a little confusing, and also unsettling, although I can’t help but feel that’s what the author intended. I also think the way it jumps between past and present made it more confusing as well. I suppose it helped relay what the protagonist was experiencing, that she was at a crisis, but I think it should have been a little clearer what was happening.
On paper, I understand what the book was trying to achieve, although in practise, I’m not sure if it managed this. In terms of plot, there wasn’t really much, which I think hindered the ‘journey’ the narrative took, as it didn’t help to show character progression much.
On the other hand, I loved how colloquial the narrative was – it really felt like you were reading someone’s diary, or even that you were in the author’s mind, experiencing her thoughts and feelings. The conversational tone of it helped convey the (assumed) intended message, and as it deals with difficult, and personal themes, the novel felt more relatable because of this.
What I will say is that I really think some more thought could have gone into the layout of the book; I completely get that books are not about what they look like, but the formatting of the paragraphs really didn’t help it flow, and I think it could have benefitted from being broken up some more in order to allow the narrative to flow more smoothly.
Overall, I appreciate what the author was trying to achieve with this novel and I think it’s important to talk about mental health in literature, however, I would be worried, that the way it is presented, could do more damage than good. Again, I see why the author wrote this, but I just don’t think the style worked for me. I wanted something a little more coherent, and even if it was intended to be messy, something a little neater.