It’s Monday and P is for Psychotherapy! #IMWAYR #AtoZChallenge

April 20, 2020

That’s right: It’s a hybrid post. What I thought was motion sickness today was really just a migraine set up, so I don’t have it in me to write two separate posts. If you’re just here for the A to Z stuff, it’s at the end, so you can scroll scroll scroll.

Last week was spring break, praise the Lord. I took the entire week off from work: no grading, no emails, no course prep, nothing. It was nice. I spent two days doing some deep reading–in part because I had to limit my screen time, but also because I just wanted to read. The motion sickness/migraine madness meant I unfortunately couldn’t catch up on blogs like I wanted to. However, I did manage to watch Parasite, which broke my brain, and I also started a rewatch of The Bernie Mac Show (both are on Hulu), which is bringing me so much joy. I mean, honestly, there are not enough BMS gifs out there and my heart, it weeps.


So, anyway, I’m doing the A to Z Challenge, so posted some stuff since my last check-in:

And I read some books:

Best Friends (Real Friends, #2)Best Friends by Shannon Hale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up because I wanted a fun and light read, and I have no idea what I was thinking picking up a book about FRIENDSHIP between ELEVEN YEAR OLDS thinking it would be FUN and LIGHT.

I mean, my god. What was I thinking?

I liked the book and loved the illustrations, but it was by no means fun and light. Did you see the part where it’s about middle grade friendships and navigating that minefield? So yeah.

My only quibble with this book is one I have with other books that employ this trope: I don’t like reading stories that the characters write. If I wanted to read that story, that’s the story I would pick up. There is a point where the story within a story serves a function for the character of Shannon and overlaps with the actual story being told, but in general, I don’t care for it and found myself skipping/skimming it. I mean, it’s enough for me to know that the character is a writer who loves writing.

View all my reviews

The Whispering WarsThe Whispering Wars by Jaclyn Moriarty

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Listen, the best thing about this book is just how hard Moriarty goes in on class warfare and how children can be taught from a very young age (a) not to care about poor people or (b) that they’re somehow better than poor people based on nothing else but the accidental circumstances of their birth. It starts in the first chapter and goes all the way until the end. It is so well-handled, and I can imagine any number of children going “But that’s not fair!” as they read, which is A+++.

As for the story itself, I liked it fine, but I felt like it was slow to start.

This is also a story for our COVID-19 times as there is a nasty (novel) flu ravaging the populace and there is a war and life is strange and weird and not like it usually is, and there’s this great bit that just encapsulates all of it:

Also, it might seem dreadful that Finlay’s important thing was a rugby game, but that is part of the strangeness of war. Ordinary life keeps…happening. […] Actually, in some ways, these small things are more important because they remind you that ordinary life is real, and that hopefully it will return one day. You need glimpses of happiness and light.

This is a companion book to The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone that functions as a bit of a prequel, but you need not have read that one to understand this one.

View all my reviews

Goodbye from NowhereGoodbye from Nowhere by Sara Zarr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is what I love about YA fiction: just regular teens doing regular teen things, which in this case means Kyle dealing with the fact that his parents are people who make terrible decisions which turns him into a people who makes terrible decisions. It’s great! (That is not sarcasm, btw.)

Great characters, beautiful writing as always, and a nice, complex cast of family characters. I would read a whole book about Megan or Emily. And what was going on with Martie? Also, I was actually intrigued by the grown-ups’ drama. I don’t know if I’d care to read a book from their perspectives (the whole time I would be like, “yes, yes, but what about the TEENS?”), but I think I might and that is honestly high praise.

4.5 stars

View all my reviews


As for the A to Z Challenge, today’s letter is P for psychotherapy.

My therapist is, thankfully, doing telehealth services so I am still meeting with her once a week for my sessions via video. As you may have guessed, we have spent the bulk of almost every session talking about the pandemic and coping strategies for the various things that pop up like the stress of going to the store, managing my time, and how to resolve disputes over chores–even if they are minor. (Fun fact: because I haven’t lived with my daughter for longer than two-month stretches over the past two years, the way we communicate has to change.)

Therapists have really stepped up to the plate, in general, some even posting weekly blogs with tips for getting through. A friend of mine is doing a series on her Instagram where she posts poetry, podcast, and book recommendations each week. Also, most practices are still accepting new patients to work with remotely AND insurance companies have relaxed some of their weird must be in-person rules, which makes it easier to set up telehealth appointments.

I know it can be very tricky to manage the privacy aspect of therapy appointments when sharing space with other people, but therapy sessions have also been very helpful for me during this time even more than ever. If you’ve been thinking about starting therapy, now is a really good time. So many coping strategies! Someone to listen to what you think may be petty annoyances! And then coping strategies for those! It’s great.

For this year’s A to Z Challenge, I have decided that I’m going to focus on my survival/coping strategies while practicing social distancing. What are the things that make it bearable? What helps alleviate my stress and fear–or at least what distracts me from both? Tune in tomorrow to see what I choose for Q!

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  1. Katy K.

    Hooray for Best Friends! I still need to write a review, though I read it recently. I think the story-writing parts help keep the book from being too heavy- but I think I also like fantasy more than you in general. I am glad to hear the Whispering Wars is out, though I’m now a little nervous about it.

    • Akilah

      That’s true, but it’s not the fantasy part (though it may be?). I thought the same thing about Ship It (the main character’s fanfic is featured) and Scott Westerfeld’s one book that alternated chapters between the main character and the book she was writing.

      The flu and war stuff in Whispering Wars is very background (though not very background) and the main focus stays on the kids and how they handle it. I didn’t LOVE the characters the way I loved the characters in Bronte Mettlestone but it was a pleasant enough read.

      • Katy K.

        That’s interesting. I know a lot of people had that problem with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, though I also like that one, as well as the two books that were based just on the in-between stories.

        I really liked Bronte Mettlestone, but really love the Colors of Madeleine. I am such a character reader!

        • Akilah

          Haha yes, I also hated that about Fangirl. I put it in my review:

          “I liked the excerpts from the Simon Snow books and fic as framing devices for the chapters. I absolutely HATED that huge chunks of parts of the narrative was Cath reading her fic out loud to someone and what she was reading was transcribed in the book. I am not a big fanfic reader of the shows and books that I actually know and love. To read fanfic about a world that doesn’t actually exist–about characters I had zero investment or interest in–felt extra pointless.”

          I haven’t read the Simon Snow books but that’s mostly because I don’t care about vampires.

          • Katy K.

            I also don’t care about vampires, but the Simon Snow books never felt like that’s what they were about – book 1 addresses a lot of issues behind Harry Potter for fans, and book 2 is about dealing after what’s been the purpose for your existence isn’t there.

          • Akilah

            Oh cool. Maybe I’ll check it out then.

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