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For some background, I currently work at a university counseling center - I say this because it’s important to know how important the portrayal of stories like Benji’s are to me. As the protagonist, Benji is a seemingly average, but bright fourteen year old girl who has had to live through some of the hardest circumstances that I believe many individuals can identify with. I was truly thankful that Benji’s experiences were told the authentic voice given by Swann. Swann provided us a close look into the fear, loss, and grief of life. Grief is truly such a difficult emotion to express and focus on and Swann did such a beautiful job of doing that with Benji as the host. It is a harsh “real-ness” that we get to experience through the perspective of Benji. It is so brutal and vicious, but it is many people’s truth, and I don’t believe we could have experienced it for Benji in such an authentic way had it not been for Swann.
And this is where my background comes back - one of the most important messages in this book is understanding that we cannot control everything that happens or is around us. The only thing that we can control is our reaction to what is around us. This can be considered by many as THE message to take from therapy, and to read it in and within the lines I’d Swann’s book is truly heartfelt.
Yeah, but I Didn’t is a slow and easy read - but it’s true gift is the perspective it gives its reader. Swann gives a voice to all who see something of themselves in Benji. It can be hard to read as it does talk about rape and suicide, but it’s through these difficult topics that we get to the heart of Yeah, but I Didn’t. Reader, consider this a trigger warning, but also a push to read beyond what you know. Coming-of-age stories aren’t what they used to be and that’s a good thing. It means we are inching more and more toward truth. And if you can read without feeling triggered, I truly recommend this book to you.
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