Review: Damage by Eve Ainsworth
‘This is me now. Confused. Stupid and damaged. Everything is ruined. Someone has dimmed the lights inside of me and it’s awful. I’m a deserted building full of rattling ghosts and memories.’
Gabi is struggling with her emotions following the death of her granddad. He was the only one who truly understood her, and now he’s gone. Her mum is refusing to talk about him, her dad is too busy at work in the pub, and Gabi finds herself turning to a razor as an outlet for her pain.
Damage is a simple yet effective exploration of grief and depression. Gabi doesn’t consciously decide to begin self-harming, but it’s something that she finds herself subconsciously drawn towards. It escalates rapidly, though, and soon enough Gabi finds herself posting on self-harm forums, seeking advice and support and sharing stories with other people who are struggling.
I was close to giving Damage four stars, but – once again – there are some problematic aspects to Eve Ainsworth’s writing that made me uncomfortable. The ending is left remarkably open, for one: I know it’s a short story, but with a sensitive topic like this it would have been sensible to close the narrative more definitively.
I also think it’s risky to involve forums, because the majority of places on the internet are insidious rather than supportive. It’s dangerous to encourage vulnerable young people to find help online, because it’s highly unlikely that they’ll find it with ease.
However, the relationship between grief and depression was explored thoroughly. Gabi’s story will certainly help young readers who are dealing with the loss of a close family member. It’s also nice to see self-harm dealt with in such an honest, no-holds-barred manner. Gabi’s cutting is not romanticised and it’s not ignored by the people closest to her: it’s treated as a problem that has a solution. Ainsworth represents depression and self-harm with care, and this book is bound to help teenagers who feel as though they have no one to turn to.
Damage is far more accomplished than either of Ainsworth’s first novels, and it excites me to see where her writing goes next. She’s not afraid to tackle difficult topics, and you don’t often find self-harm covered in such a powerful way.
If you’re interested in learning more about Damage, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!