Review—Night Shift by Debi Gliori

I’ll be honest. I was intrigued by Debi Gliori’s book Night Shift but also petrified to read and review it. See, in my family, there are certain things we don’t talk about with others, certain things we don’t admit. This is the first time I’ve talked about this publicly (or, as publicly as a book review can be).

When I was younger, I would sometimes feel such immense sadness, but have no words to explain what made me sad. I would talk to my mother and feel such sadness I would cry, but again, I had no explanation. But. I come from a line of strong, fierce women. We, as a whole, had—and have—the ability to cope with everything that came our way. We didn’t need therapy, or medicine, or doctors to help us. We never, ever talked about depression. That didn’t happen to us. Or if it did, we hid it. Not one of us ever brought it up.

Now, though, people talk more about it. It does not hold the stigma it used to…at least for those who understand that talking about it can actually be healthy.

Through a series of events that built on each other over time, I finally gave in about two years ago and sent an email to my doctor and said, “I think I might be depressed.” So then came the questionnaires, the testing of medicines, the attempt at talk therapy. The whole process from youth to now is another kind blog post altogether, but the point of me sharing a bit of my own experience is because Debi Gliori’s book captures my feelings perfectly, both when I was younger and now. As I read the book, I wanted to cry, but also felt such gratitude. Here, in pictures, were the feelings I could never express. Here, in such simple words, were explanations of what I felt for so many years that I began to think it was just normal. Here, in pictures, was what it felt like to be depressed, have depression, to try to find help.

For such a small, compact book, it contains so much pathos, empathy, and, for those of us who need help in expressing what we feel but struggle to say, hope. Gliori doesn’t provide an ending, because with depression, it’s more a cycle in which many things—including those of us who live with depression—shift. Sometimes the shift in the cycle comes from knowing someone out there understands what you’re going through.


Jacket Copy:

From beloved author and illustrator Debi Gliori (No Matter What) comes Night Shift, a groundbreaking lushly illustrated picture book based on Gliori’s own personal history with depression.

Fighting dragons is one way of fighting depression. This book is another.    

Through stunning black and white illustration and deceptively simple text, author and illustrator Debi Gliori provides a fascinating and absorbing portrait of depression and hope in Night Shift, a moving picture book about a young girl haunted by dragons. The young girl battles the dragons using ‘night skills’: skills that give her both the ability to survive inside her own darkness and the knowledge that nothing—not even long, dark nights filled with monsters—will last forever.   

Drawn from Gliori’s own experiences and struggles with depression, the book concludes with a moving author’s note explaining how depression has affected her and how she continues to cope. Gliori hopes that by sharing her own experience she can help others who suffer from depression, and to find that subtle shift that will show the way out.   

A brave and powerful book, give Night Shift to dragon fighters young and old, and any reader who needs to know they’re not alone.

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