Saturday, April 17, 2021

A Thousand Minutes Until Sunlight

White, Jen. A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight
April 20th 2021 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Cora experienced difficulties at birth that left her without oxygen for eight minutes, and she attributes her anxiety, and the fact that her "brain" talks to her, to this deficiency. Her parents have her seeing a psychologist, Dr. Rosenthal, who tries to help her with coping strategies. She still has panic attacks frequently, and it hasn't helped that her best friend has moved to Florida and Cora must start 6th grade by herself. She's supposed to consult the school nurse when she feels a panic attack coming on, but after a recent one during which she ran away from school, the principal pairs her with a "forced friend", Patrick. Patrick is nice enough, but Cora has problems at home as well. Her father runs a custom body shop, and her mother runs a boutique with her sister Janet, but late one night Cora thinks she sees them bringing a man into the house who is not in the best shape. This turns out to be her uncle, who has been estranged, but finally wants to go into rehab. There is a lot of family history of mental health challenges, and Cora worries about her own and her family's. She and her father have talked for a long time about finding "the unattainable find", a supposed cache of gold coins that fell into the area after a plane crash of a wealthy socialite. Cora spends time on the beach with her metal detector, and lets Patrick join her in this quest. Cora has a lot of negative self talk, and spirals into self doubt when things happen in her life, like when her young cousin falls and breaks his arm and she is not able to help him. Will Cora be able to go forward and manage her anxiety, and will her family be able to deal with the uncle's challenges as well?
Strengths: There are a growing number of books that talk about family mental health issues, but I can't think of one that really addresses multiple generations at once. I liked the fact that Cora's parents were both alive and supportive, had her in therapy, and talked to her about dealing with her issues. There are good notes at the end about depression and anxiety. This is definitely on trend when it comes to dealing with these issues.
Weaknesses: This moves very slowly, and there is a constant stream of what Cora's "brain" is saying and what this really means. It's a good way to get an insight into Cora's thoughts, but is a bit annoying. 
What I really think: This author's Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave has proven to be popular because of the road trip and the parental abuse. A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight is much slower paced, and reminded me more of Polisner's Seven Clues to Home, Kelly's We Dream of Space or (oddly) King's The Year We Fell From Space

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