________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 15 . . . . March 31, 2006


My Kind of Sad: What It's Like to be Young and Depressed.

Kate Scowen. Illustrated by Jeff Szuc.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2006.
168 pp., pbk. & cl., $12.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55037-940-2 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-941-0 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Depression, Mental-Juvenile literature.
Depression in adolescence-Popular works.

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Val Ken Lem.

*** /4


The reported rates of depression for boys and girls are interesting. Research shows that in childhood, depression is slightly more common in boys than in girls. In adolescence, the rates of depression are much higher in girls. It's important to remember, though, that rates of depression are based on what is reported to researchers—it is hard to report something that hasn't been identified.


My Kind of Sad is a good introduction to the topics of depression, its manifestation in adolescents, and the treatment options that exist. It is intended for use by teenagers as well as their friends, families and school counsellors. Anyone reading the book from cover to cover will discover a great deal of repetition, but this is understandable given that the author wants readers to be able to focus on a particular chapter that is of interest.

     Scowen, a Toronto-based youth worker turned consultant, begins by describing the history of depression and identifying environmental and hormonal changes that adolescents experience that can contribute to moodiness and non-clinical depression. Most of the book is devoted to descriptions of clinical depression and ways that it is manifested, including depression and anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, self-mutilation, and suicide. One chapter covers treatment options such as medication, counselling, and other therapies including alternative ones. A brief afterword is as concise as an executive summary. The book concludes with useful resources such as phone help-lines in the US and Canada, an annotated bibliography of recommended books, endnotes and a serviceable index.

     The material is presented in clear language. The text is broken into smaller segments with prominent topical headings, listed facts, black-and-white illustrations to which readers of all genders and ethnic backgrounds can relate, and “check it out” icons that refer readers to the page in the annotated bibliography where they can find additional resources. Scowen also incorporates some case studies and numerous quotations from young people aged nine through 23, and she quotes from a few parents, in order to illustrate the aspects of adolescent depression under discussion.

     As the back cover notes, “No book can give you a quick fix for depression. But this one can help you understand that it is possible to get through it.” My Kind of Sad would be useful in any North American high school library.


Val Ken Lem is a librarian at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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