Her half-brother Coaby represents the hope and motivation Aeisha struggles to find to face each new day. The trouble is her mother has denied permission for them to see each other. The repercussion of her choice to live with her father was having unexpected consequences. Added to that, her recent diagnosis was complicating everything.  
  Language : English    
  Paperback : 144 pages    
  Release Date : June 2010    
  ISBN : 978-0-9808095-0-3    
  Author : David McLean    
  Available now  
  Bundle price $19.95 AUD  + $3.00 (Postage and Packaging)  
FINDING COABY by David McLean Delta Psi Publications ISBN 9780980809503 RRP: $19.95 www.findingcoaby.com.au

But there was nowhere to go to be yourself. You were trapped behind a happy face or a mask that you wore.

Aeisha is a fourteen year old girl riding the rollercoaster that is puberty with all its tears and tantrums, parents and peers and a world that doesn't understand her. Her mobile phone and Ipod are the two constants in a world that is crowding in on her and blocking out the light.

David McLean's debut novel tackles an all too familiar subject, but one that has not been dealt with before in Australian adolescent fiction. It is a timely tale told with empathy and insight and the sort of book that sheds light on how it is for young people and their families trying to see through the blanket of fog that is depression. With empathy and clarity Mclean recreates the reality that hides in many homes, a reality that many do not wish to, or cannot, face. In broaching this subject McLean makes a brave effort to unmask this debilitating condition and to provide for the reader an insight into how insidious this illness can be.

Aeisha has begun to be handled with kid gloves by her family and those around her. She wants to escape, but mostly she wants to see to the other side. She knows something is wrong but is too young to know how to handle it. She is also dealing with the split family dilemma, a distracted father, a step-father who doesn't quite know what has hit him, a mother who is regimented and has her own mental health issues, a sister who is always shinier and brighter and better than she is and a brother who eats and sleeps and is oblivious to what is really going on in the family unit around him. And then there is Coaby, her new half brother with whom she yearns to make a connection. But the happy families paradigm on which her mother insists is just a sham and further isolates Aeisha who really just wants the parameters of normality to strengthen her.

Aeisha begins to write a journal: ... the beginning of her voice- an emergent whisper between the parental commentary and raised chords of disaffection in the households. McLean acknowledges the assistance of his niece who herself suffered in this way. He was able to access her journals to excavate the black depth which enveloped her and this strikes an authentic chord. In capturing Aeisha's depression and its ripple effect Mc Lean has realistically caught the family fallout and implications and repercussions of having a child struggling with clinical depression. His characterisation is real, as is his dialogue, and he captures the muted tone of a fourteen year old who is teetering on an abyss. As well as the narrative thrust, McLean also inserts the occasional fact or statistic which reminds the reader of the everyday reality and prevalence of adolescent depression. Aeisha reminds us: You just feel so empty. It's like nothing inside. You get so tired trying to hold back the darkness. This is something of which we should be reminded. For too long young people with depression have suffered without adequate voice or advocacy in this area.

This is a book that had to be written. It is a book that must be read. Adolescent depression is real and urgent and this book bravely tackles the issue. Written with empathy, insight and an understanding of the war-zone that can be growing up and blended families, David McLean is to be commended for his close look at this issue. This book should be in school libraries and counsellor's offices. It should be read by young people so that they can detect and understand the changes they may see in friends or classmates.

It is just the sort of book that Aeisha needed to pick up on the day she wagged school and went to the local library to do her own research as she tried to determine what was wrong with her. Depression is the sneaking dog that can nip at your heels. This book ultimately suggests that the outcome can be positive for those who suffer from this affliction, such as Aeisha, provided the right balance of love, counselling, medication and understanding is prescribed.

A must read for parents, teachers and students; timely, topical and sensitively explored through McLean's expert blending of fact and fiction in an all too true Australian story.

  Ann Rennie
Genazzano College, Kew, Victoria

Finding Coaby is a refreshingly honest account of the affects of depression on both sufferers and their support groups. This novella comes at a time when the rate of mental illness, more specifically depression, is on the rise amongst teenagers. It has the capability to calmly relate the affects of depression not only on the individual but on the people around them. The themes of loss, separation, abuse, peer pressure and generational differences are also dealt with in this sensitive novella.

The language in the novella is modern and simple, making it easily accessible to the target audience of teenage readers. The ease of the language does not deter adult readers away as the simplicity of the language enhances the complexity of the disease.

Finding Coaby follows the movements of the main character Ash. She is a teenager who has gone to live with her father, Geoff, due to tensions between herself and her mother. Ash suffers from severe depression which is noticeable from the first time the audience meets her when she has to try and think of something worth getting out of bed for. We follow Ash throughout a day that starts with a fight to find something to get out of bed for; through a day of exhaustion and sticky situations deriving from a need to be recognised and wanted.

Geoff is a man damaged by their experiences with mental illness. His ex-wife, Ash's mum, also suffered from the illness. She struggled for years as a result, so did he. He struggled for years watching his wife battle the illness with no help due to her denial, placing more importance on his need to help Ash live with hers. Depression had destroyed his life with his wife and is turning him into a bitter, self-destructing man. As he helps Ash seek and receive help, he is also learning how to deal with illness.

Ash is a well crafted character that is surrounded by other characters of equal form. As this novella is based on real people, the author's brother and his niece, it could have easily lacked strong characters as the author has a personal connection and they are so vivid in his mind he may not have related them so well to the reader. Luckily, for the sake of awareness if nothing else, he has formed characters that are immediately appealing.

Finding Coaby is the type of tale that leaves a trace of itself with you. You will be reminded of the characters and events long after you have turned the pages. For awareness sake and for a refreshing dose of truth, Finding Coaby is worth taking a look at.

  Peta Holland
Parklands High School
Burnie, Tasmania
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  Other works by David McLean  Link to www.videointeraction.com.au
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