Trigger Warnings: death, hospitals, self-harm, suicide, panic attacks, PTSD, underage drinking, drug use, abuse, eating disorders
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Here is what happens when your mother dies.
It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.
That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.
Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.
What. A. Book. Packed with emotion, How to Make Friends with the Dark is a hard to read novel that gives us a raw, messy, and relatable look at grief. When I picked this novel up I thought I knew what I was getting myself into since I had previously read, and loved, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut Girl in Pieces, but I wasn’t completely prepared. Glasgow does a service to her readers by not holding anything back, instead choosing to take us deep into Tiger’s mind as she begins to try and figure out how to live a life she never expected.
The world is full of tears, and I’m starting to drown.How to make friends with the dark by kathleen glasgow
While I have never been in a situation remotely like Tiger’s, there were still pieces of the story I was able to relate to. After the death of her mother, Tiger decides to exclusively wear the dress her mom had bought her for an upcoming school dance. She refuses to wear anything else until eventually the dress becomes smelly and begins to fall apart. Other ways she finds to cope is through self-harm and unhealthy eating habits. These were all things I experienced in my own way after the death of my nana in 2010.
All of the characters were great. Not a single one of them was perfect, but you could tell how much they were all trying their best to handle the ridiculous hands that were being dealt to them. I especially loved Tiger’s best friend Cake. It was so plain to see how out of her element Cake was, but she refused to leave Tiger’s side and stood by her even when it was difficult. She forgave when Tiger would lash out in grief and anger and apologized when she said things she shouldn’t have due to a lack of understanding. Glasgow also included LGBTQIAP+ rep in two of the side characters. I don’t remember it ever being explicitly stated what they identify as, but one of the girls does have a girlfriend and the other says she’s into girls and boys.
What if, in the end, all we are is a bunch of dirty clothes and gritty bits of oatmeal soap, to be thrown out and left on the street?How to make friends with the dark by kathleen glasgow
My only real issue with this story was the pacing. This is a book that’s on the longer end and I feel like it didn’t entirely need to be. For the first maybe 60% things moved very slowly. Once I got past this point though the pace picked up a little and moved along at a more satisfying rate. During the slow bits, I would find myself starting to zone out a little and get bored, but it was never to the point where I was tempted to put the book down and not finish it. Though I wish the pace had been consistently good throughout the entire novel, it’s still worth reading and pushing through.
Usually, when I read something, there will maybe be one line, if any, that jumps out at me enough to the point I want to make a note of it. This novel was an exception though as it had several impactful quotes. I kept reading sentences that really hit me and made me read them over and over again before continuing. There was also mention of Taylor Swift’s song Style which we all know completely made my day.
You feel like that darkness is going to split you apart.how to make friends with the dark by kathleen glasgow
How to Make Friends with the Dark really is a can’t miss read. Tiger’s story demands to be told and it deserves to be known. What she goes through is a reality that many teens face, and I really believe that this book has the ability to help a lot of people process the grief they are experiencing and figure out where to go from here.
A digital ARC was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Additionally, all quotes should be checked for accuracy against the final published novel.