Book Review: Just Like You

Book Review: Just Like You

I’ve read a lot of books in my lifetime -- no really, more than you can imagine -- and not one compares to Darlene Wierski-Devoe’s book Just Like You, which is the most accurate and enlightening children’s story about social anxiety.

Just Like You tells the story of Brooke, a girl who likes to run, play, color, paint, and have friends, “just like you” -- except you might not be able to tell these things because Brooke has “trouble with the anxiety monster.”  This monster makes her hands shake, her heart race, and Brooke feels like all she can do is cry.

A startling picture in the book shows Brooke crying, and the anxiety monster surrounded by phrases such as “you can’t do it,” “you will fail,” “you’re too scared,” “they are starting at you,” and “you’re not good enough.”  For people who have experienced social anxiety, these are common thoughts that occur but are very difficult to control.

Just Like You puts these feelings and the actions children with anxiety take because of these thoughts and emotions into the words of a child, and it truly feels like that first-hand account of what it’s really like to struggle with anxiety.  The book is told in a way that children will understand as well as parents and educators, so it reaches across many populations. 

Social anxiety in children is more prevalent than many people think, and Wierski-Devoe’s courage and drive to educate the public is worthy of applause.  Going hand in hand with anxiety is the stigma that surrounds it; parents don’t necessarily want to believe their child has a mental health issue, children don’t always understand why they have thoughts or feel like crying in nearly any situation, and their peers certainly don’t always understand what it is like to experience anxiety.  Breaking this stigma through awareness gives children and parents a chance for empathy and creating a positive environment. 

Just Like You is a striking portrait of anxiety in children, and with more awareness and support, children just like Brooke can overcome the anxiety monster.

Wierski-Devoe is the founder and publisher of “Raising the Socially Anxious Children Blog,” where you can find additional support for raising children with anxiety or other mood disorders.  Just Like You is available at the store and online retailers.  The “Me” journal can also be purchased as an accompaniment to the book; this journal gives children a sense of awareness of their own emotions and allows them to share thoughts creatively and help them find coping mechanisms.

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Written by: Cara Batema See other articles by Cara Batema
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