23 October 2009

Letters to Leonardo

by Dee White

Walker Books Australia. Australian, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $16.95

Matt lives with his dad. They are happy and settled. But when he receives a 16th birthday card from his dead mother, his life is thrown into confusion and chaos.

Matt’s journey to find his mother is a search for his own identity and place in the world. Why did his father lie to him? Why hasn’t his mother contacted him before?

When Matt’s teacher sets a project which sees Matt writing to Leonardo di Vinci, Matt begins to find his way. Like Matt and his mother, Leonardo was an artist. Like his mother, Leonardo struggled with mental illness. And the similarities continue to unfold. Matt and Leonardo even share the same birthday.

With the help of his friend Troy, Matt attempts to bring his mother more actively into his life. But she is not the person he wants her to be. Or even the person she wants herself to be. Her life is a constant battle with bi-polar disorder.

Mental illness has cruel and harsh consequences for everyone affected by it. Matt ultimately realises this is what his father tried to protect him from. But he realises too late.

Letters to Leonardo is a confronting book best suited to the mature reader. It deals honestly and openly with the sensitive issue of mental health and its impact on the family unit. This is not a fairy story. The ending is both crushing and hopeful. But this is what makes the story important and a must to read.


No comments:

Post a Comment