The Balance Between Life and Death is a novella by Elizabeth Holland, who you may know from her blog Anxiety and Liz.
The intro says “This novella focuses on the importance of putting your mental health first. A reminder that you never know what someone is hiding beneath their smile.”
The protagonist is a young woman named Ana Adams. “The smile on her face means nothing, all that matters is the turmoil that is going on inside her head.”
The book begins 10 years before with Ana finding her father dead by suicide. It then shifts to the present day, when Ana begins seeing a therapist to start working through her trauma.
Around the same time, she begins a romantic relationship, and the reader finds out more about Ana’s history as she shares it with her new boyfriend.
After experiencing a crisis, Ana is able to move forward in a new way, and the book ends with a sense of optimism for the future.
The book does a good job of presenting Ana’s mental health issues in an accessible and easily understandable way, and the reader gets a good sense of who Ana is as a person. Suicide is addressed directly without any beating around the bushes, but it’s done in a way that’s not likely to be triggering for readers. The romance brings a nice sense of lightness to balance out some of the darker bits. Overall, a very good read.
And on a side note, after reading that Ana changed from pumps into heels, I learned that pumps refers to a very different kind of shoe depending on which side of the Atlantic you live on. Heels in North America, flats in the U.K. Who knew?
The Balance Between Life and Death is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
Visit Liz on her blog Anxiety and Liz.
The Straight Talk on Suicide page has crisis and safety planning resources, along with info on suicide-related topics from the perspective of someone who’s been there.