Reasons to Stay Alive
By Matt Haig

Prefer to listen? I highly recommend the audio version of this memoir narrated by the author. Many lives are touched by mental illness. You may have a family member or friend silently suffering and do not know how to assist them. You may recognize symptoms within yourself and have not found a way to ask for help. Matt Haig openly and honestly describes his personal struggles with severe depression and anxiety, revealing his deepest thoughts and feelings experienced throughout his life. Plagued for years, Haig was often petrified he was going to die. It didn’t matter that this made no practical sense – it is what he feared every minute of almost every day. There seemed to be no reason to go on living this way. His girlfriend Andrea and his parents were always trying to help Haig find the path to wellness. It wasn’t easy. Reading his memoir may seem daunting and even scary, but there is much to learn from other people’s experiences. In the end this beautiful human believes there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is worth discovering.

The Truth About Ben & June
By Alex Kiester

A hopeful novel about a hard-to-detect life-threatening diagnosis. Ben and June meet on New Year’s Eve in the ER of a New York City hospital. Ben broke his hand in an attempt to help a stranger who didn’t want assistance, while June had an awful flu. Their chemistry was immediate. Friendship slowly eased into romance, with June an aspiring dancer and Ben a law student on the cusp of a promising career. After an unexpected pregnancy, they find themselves in the suburbs “living the dream.” But June’s dream was left on stage with the dance company. She loves baby Mikey, but his incessant crying and discontent rip through her heart every single day. Ben works nonstop and June is alone with their infant son, barely functioning on little sleep and hallucinations of her dead mother. Their yuppy enclave is filled with immaculate homes and perfect moms. Ben is too busy to notice June’s downward spiral until it is too late. Narrated from Ben and June’s perspective, this depiction of a young couple’s struggle escalates to very real danger. A compelling exploration of young marriage and new motherhood.

The Next Thing You Know
By Jessica Strawser

Is there such a thing as a death doula? This fictional story brings to light the doula’s mission to provide companionship, education and courage to individuals and families. Nova Huston is a death doula, helping her patients transition at the end of their lives. Nova tends to whatever needs the terminally ill patient has. It’s a difficult job but with her mentor Kelly by her side they run a successful practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. One day Mason Shaylor, a handsome musician, walks into her office. With extremely shaky hands and visible surgical scars, Mason otherwise appears much too young to be looking at his final days. Reluctant to fill out all the new patient paperwork, Nova cannot understand what Mason truly desires. As the two spend time together, their connection and chemistry is undeniable. Nova encourages Mason to explore forgiveness and acceptance so his remaining days can be filled with his passion and love of music. This beautifully written, heartwarming story of complicated family dynamics can be difficult to read. Accepting that the end of life is part of life is something that very few people can conceive.

Karen Newfield is first and foremost a reader, she has reviewed hundreds of books on her blog And, more recently, this new Keys resident has also begun writing.