The 10 PM Question by Kate De Goldi

Summary from Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Frankie Parsons is a talented kid with a quirky family, a best friend named Gigs, and a voice of anxiety constantly nibbling in his head: Could that kidney-shaped spot on his chest be a galloping cancer? Are the smoke alarm batteries flat? Has his cat, The Fat Controller, given them all worms? Only Ma, who never leaves home, takes Frankie’s worries seriously. But then, it is Ma who is the cause of the most troubling question of all, the one Frankie can never bring himself to ask. When a new girl arrives at school — a daring free spirit with unavoidable questions of her own — Frankie’s carefully guarded world begins to unravel, leading him to a painful confrontation with the ultimate 10 p.m. question.

The 10 PM Question caught my attention because the premise offers something that I have not yet come across in the children's literature genre. Although mental illness in general, has been tackled in a myriad of books. But this is the first time that I've encountered a story that deals with Anxiety Disorder, specifically. Can you imagine, being 12 years old and carrying a world's weight of worries on your shoulder?

The thing about this book is that it doesn't dump the whole mental illness thing on your lap from the get go. Or if you think it's the type that oppresses the reader with lines and lines of anxiety symptoms. It isn't. What it is is a careful and gradual unraveling of the condition. In the meantime, you get caught up in the everyday life 12 year olds busy themselves with. Like inventing their own language, going to school, creating an ingenious Science Fair project, goofing off with your best friend, and playing cricket. Or finding themselves in a situation wherein what was once a duo, might just become a trio with the arrival of a complication, this new girl named Sydney. This is also a dysfunctional family story of sorts. One with unforgettable idiosyncratic characters whose interplay with Frankie and with each other, not only calls for revelry and boisterous merriment, but there is also an underlying tenderness and love underneath all the asides and jokes. And somewhere along the way, something gets undone inside Frankie which in turn reveals to the reader, the thing that the family has been keeping under wraps. A skeleton in their closet, if you will.  

You know how anxiety is, it drags you down to the pits of despair. But with this story, it rekindles a spark of hope to anyone, mental illness sufferers or not. It's about acceptance, and dealing, and coping, and living a life like any other. This is a beautiful and heartwarming book which I surely loved to pieces.  

The 10 PM Question by Kate De Goldi received the ff awards: YALSA Awards for Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011), CORINE International Book Award for Young Readers' Award (2011).


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