First things first, if you don’t own a copy of this then you need to get your hands on one now. As the title suggests, it brings us into the world of “downs and ups” that is so often a norm for those living with chronic illness.
I saw the book being talked about by fellow bloggers in the chronic illness community and it immediately peaked my interest, mainly because I love the ocean and the Narwhal idea is the cutest thing ever.
The author suffers from chronic debilitating migraines and used her experiences to bring about story anyone can relate to. At first glance from looking at the title and vibrant, clear and colorful illustrations, you wouldn’t think it would be about a whale that’s living with chronic migraines.
That’s the catch- no pun intended, the book has a level of mystery and magnetism that lures you in to want to find out more.
I do not suffer from migraines but live with a chronic illness called, rheumatoid arthritis. Despite the difference in condition areas, there wasn’t one page that I could not find myself relating to in some way- and I am an adult.
Which brings me to my next point. This children’s book is just as much for children, as it is for adults.
It illustrates so candidly the struggles one faces not only on a physical, mental, emotional, social, career, and relationship level, but how each person who is outside the bubble of illness is impacted.
The book opens up with Noah, the main character who lives with migraines, waking up feeling good and getting ready to go about his day.
He makes a plan with a friend for a social outing to a movie and goes to bed excited. The next day as unpredictable as migraines and chronic illness can be, leaves him bedridden. Thus, needing to cancel plans on his friend- something people in Noah’s shoes hate doing, but do so often.
Noah then calls in sick for work and tells his family member that he is unwell to speak on the phone. None of them understand and start getting impatient with him.
This leaves Noah feeling lonely, alone, sad and depressed. However, the next day he wakes up feeling fine and goes to work, contacts his friend and sister. None of them greet him warmly and actually question his honesty.
Noah replies with a very powerful line throughout the book, “Today is not yesterday.” Showing how good and bad days can switch on a dime.
This leaves Noah even more isolated and we are taken into a backdrop of those in his life. We see that they are just as upset as Noah is, but eventually see how irrational their actions were towards him.
Thanks to the people in their lives who remind them of how good a worker, friend and family member Noah has been to them, they start to view things from a bigger perspective.
Then looming judgement left Noah with anxiety, which happens to many living with chronic illness.
The next day he sees his boss, friend and sister. To his surprise they acted the opposite of what he had expected. They tell him how much he means to them, his feelings are acknowledged and what he is going through is not something he needs to be doing alone.
It leaves readers teary eyed- I am one of them! The big lesson here is that you are never alone. A little understanding and support from those closest to you, can make the world of difference.
Note: I have been given this book as part of a review process. Although this children’s book was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the author and/or illustrator.