Things I Know

by Helena Close

Relationship Stories Children's & YA Fiction

LoveReading Expert Review of Things I Know

Gritty, moving YA masterwork about grief, guilt, depression and regaining a sense of self

Haunted by her mother’s death, and now uprooted from Limerick to a rural village, 18-year-old Saoirse is desperate to leave school and start her life afresh. Her tremendously tough journey through guilt and anxiety - quite brilliantly related with raw compassion by Helena Close - makes for an engaging, thought-provoking, moving read that sheds light on the realities of depression while offering honest glimmers of hope.

Just ahead of sitting her sitting the Leaving Certificate, Saoirse’s ex-boyfriend commits suicide. It’s no secret that she cheated on him with his best friend, and she’s cast out by her peers. Devastated by guilt, grief and feeling isolated, her counselling sessions do little to help. Yet even as she descends into the darkest clutches of depression, Saoirse shines as a wise and witty young woman. She sees people for who they are, beyond her years, with her narrative casting a glaring light on the reality of attitudes to depression: “You are not allowed to be sad. People have no tolerance to sad. You can be Insta sad – sad because you saw pictures of dying refugees or abandoned puppies. You can’t be ongoing sad.. You can’t be scared or anxious or upset”.

As everything becomes too much for Saoirse, she’s taken to a psychiatric hospital. Though painful, her journey to regaining herself is powerfully raw and touched by hope, with the wider cast of true-to-life characters (from Saoirse’s siblings and peers, to her straight-talking, gin-swilling grandmother) adding to the enlivening authenticity.

Joanne Owen

Things I Know Synopsis

Saoirse (18) can't wait to leave school - but just before the Leaving Cert her ex-boyfriend dies by suicide. Everyone blames Saoirse - even Saoirse herself, who cheated on him with his best friend. She is shunned by her schoolmates and suffers unbearable levels of anxiety. Everything becomes too much, and on the night of the school Debs, Saoirse throws herself into the river - and wakes up in a psychiatric hospital. Slowly, painfully, with the support of a friendly hospital cleaner, her old best friend, her kind and hilarious grandmother, and even her irritating sister, Saoirse regains her sense of herself. Eventually she is ready for a new life at University.

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Helena Close Press Reviews

Praise for Helena Close;

‘This is as real as writing gets. Every line rings perfectly true.’ Donal Ryan

‘A skillful and truthful novel from a wonderful storyteller.’ Joseph O'Connor

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781915071033
Publication date: 05/05/2022
Format: Paperback

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About Helena Close

Helena Close's Debut novel, The Gone Book, was nominated for Carnegie Medal 2021. Shortlisted for Bridport Prize 2016/20. Helena is a dog lover and Munster Rugby addict. 

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