Standing on My Brother’s Shoulders – Tara Lal

Standing on my Brother's Shoulders

Tara’s childhood was scarred by the debilitating mental illness of her father and by her mother’s death from cancer when she was thirteen. Caught up in grief and despair, Tara and her older brother Adam developed a deep, caring bond, but Adam struggled silently with growing anxiety and depression. Four years after their mother’s death, he committed suicide, throwing himself from his study window at Oxford University. Grief and insecurity threatened to engulf Tara, but eventually she found, within her brother’s diaries, her reason to live. The story moves from London to Sydney as Tara rebuilds her life, firstly as a physiotherapist and then a firefighter. Through her search for understanding and a powerful dialogue with her brother, she eventually gains freedom from the past and a life of meaning. Trained in suicide prevention, the author hopes that sharing her story will allow the reader to identify risk factors for mental illness, as well as strategies that reduce the effect of trauma and loss. She also seeks to give examples of techniques to improve resilience, and show how we can aid post-traumatic growth and improve happiness levels through positive psychology. – From Publisher’s website


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

It took me a while to get into this memoir because the first several chapters were background information which I didn’t find all that interesting. The memoir did hold my attention enough for me to stick through the background chapters to get to the part where it deals with Tara’s brother’s depression and suicide. Before reading this book, I thought it was going to focus more on mental health than it actually did, but it was still interesting to see how Tara responded to her father’s illness, her brother’s suicide, and her own struggles. There was some swearing in the book, but it wasn’t excessive. I lost one of my brothers unexpectedly last year and so when Tara talked about losing her brother, I could feel along, and at times I teared up because it reminded me of my loss. Overall, I think this could be an interesting read for those who like memoirs.

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