• E. Rachael Hardcastle

Make Yourself: A Book Review of the Emotive Memoir by Gillian Smith

Make Yourself by Gillian Smith (awarded 4.5* by the Girlboss.Guru platform)

Published by Green Cat Books (https://www.green-cat.shop/gillian-smith)

Review written by E. Rachael Hardcastle


Make Yourself is a personal, emotive memoir about a teenaged girl surviving school and her peers, whilst learning how to cope with her anxiety and depression, fuelled further by thoughts of self-harm and attempted suicide.


Within just a few chapters, it's clear the author (SMITH) suffered greatly in her adolescence at the hands of others—some practically children themselves—and I found myself cringing, gasping and in some cases even crying with her. I compared her experiences of high school to my own, and through that I felt great sympathy and empathy, but also empowerment by her progress and current state of mind.

If you are buying this book, I would note it comes with a bit of a trigger warning with regards the sensitivity, as it does talk about self-harm, suicide, depression and mental health overall. However, it's definitely an interesting read and certainly makes you think and consider your own past and how it has affected who you are today, and what you want for your life in the future.

I was sent a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review, so I must also add a disclaimer that I was curious to know how journaling and writing benefited the author. There are several mentions of how writing assisted her recovery, and in one chapter SMITH says, '...emotions ran so easily from my heart to my pen...' which as a writer myself, hit a nerve for sure—this is something I completely agree with.


As I always write 100% fair and honest reviews, there were a few minor things I wasn't sure about that I must include. The book is a decent size and great value for money overall, but I found the double-spacing inside a bit distracting... maybe because I'm just not used to it. I found the odd spelling/grammar mistake and one or two formatting errors. But, I should also note here that I'm a copy-editor by trade, and such points are always subjective. I have been sent an advanced reader copy/an early version too. The most important thing to note is of course how well the writer expresses herself, the important lessons she teaches, and the overall quality of the content. For this alone, she gets 10/10 (or I'd award 5* on a retailer platform).


I was also engrossed by the chapter about SMITH's reaction to the events of 9/11 as this is a setting I have used in my own fiction; it's a shocking memory and something that I got the impression stunned the author into some self-realisations. Towards the back end of the book, SMITH then says, 'Writing is a release without judgement.' This quote spoke to me as Jack Heffron's 'Writing is an act of hope' did in The Writer's Idea Book. I talk a lot through managing Girlboss.Guru about the benefits of journaling and how we can open ourselves to self-realisations without judgment, guilt or fear. This book has only enforced my belief in this therapeutic system and if you are looking to write a memoir about your own troubles and struggles, SMITH would be the perfect author to approach for advice.

I'm grateful to have received this book and found it deeply moving and well worth the read. From a mental health/wellbeing and even journaling perspective, I would recommend it. I'm awarding this title 4.5* through the Girlboss.Guru platform with my thanks for the opportunity.


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