Rachel’s experience of mental health issues within her own family – which she recounts with great candour and not an ounce of self-pity – inform much of what she writes in this book, so the reader knows immediately that it’s truly authentic – the ‘real deal’.
But this isn’t a book looking back, it’s a route map for life, a sparkling self-help manual for today’s teenagers, many of whom find themselves struggling to navigate the choppy and sometimes hostile waters of 21st Century adolescence.
What makes The Circus of Life so unique and so welcome is Rachel’s characteristic emphasis on practical strategies for young people to manage their own mental health and to understand how their minds work, and what to do when they malfunction. Her writing truly empowers the reader and encourages them to ‘Be [their] own life coach’.
Kendal Mills, Deputy Head (Pastoral), Stamford School
Rachel has managed to take things as big as stress and mental health issues for teenagers and written it in such a way that it captures a teenager’s heart (and I can say this because I watched my 13-year-old swallow up the whole book in a couple of hours). I have seen my daughter read books at super-speed before, but they have always been books she is interested in (Harry Potter) and for her to finish this book in record time and then come to me and say “Mum, I want to print the big top model and start working on it. Can we please do it together.” is what made me finish this book in 3 days (record time for me as my super-speed is 2 weeks). This book gives so many little ways kids can keep themselves in the straight and narrow. She has taken a topic with such a stigma (mental health) and made it so normal and something that happens to everyone (yes, it does. It is not a taboo) and made it so open and easier to deal with.
What an inspirational read!! I couldn’t put it down from start to finish!!
An easy to use self-help guide that has given me so many day to day activities to support and improve my wellbeing. Brilliant suggestions to support people in our ever changing, fast-paced modern world.
As a mum to a teenager facing life at secondary school it has given me and him motivation and enthusiasm to run our own ‘circus’ with an amazing ‘big top’!!
The Circus of Life is very engaging and well organised, I like the chapter summaries at the end and the tasks as you go through (purposely using CBT?) I think parents and teens will love this and what a great concept of the circus – I particularly like the rolla bolla explanation. Your language is really accessible and the beauty is that you haven't patronised at any point which can be a bit of a teen comment. For me as a clinician I can see that this would be a great read to recommend in the wait between assessment and start of intervention as understandably that can feel so hard and uncontained and, as a parent myself, a time when you can feel so helpless. I love the appendices explaining the different mental health diagnoses and the message that everyone experiences these feelings. I spend a lot of clinic time talking about how we can’t ‘get rid’ of anxiety, that at times it serves a purpose, we need to make it work for rather than against us.
Victoria Bonnett, Clinical Psychologist (CAMHS)
From the very first page, I could immediately tell that The Circus of Life was going to be engaging, inspiring and completely constructive. The style with which Rachel writes is accessible to all, especially younger readers like myself. Above all, the content of this book provides unparalleled advice for people of all walks of life. The chapter that particularly resonates with me is the one about balance, and finding equilibrium between work and life. Being a current GCSE student, I have often found myself having to sacrifice my free time for an after-school support class, or something similar. However, having read The Circus of Life, I now feel more equipped to ‘juggle’ all of these responsibilities, and at the same time maintain a healthy sense of wellbeing. With an abundance of tips and tricks, this book has the capability to make a significant difference to, and have an impact on, all minds – young and old alike.
Lottie Pike, Age 16
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. As a teenager myself, I will admit that life is tough. Stress about GCSE’s and major exams, what career we want to pursue or what we will become - it all piles up, almost like a mountain that you can’t climb alone and are embarrassed to talk to anyone about, even talking to your parents has become “uncool”.
Reading this book could make many teens believe in themselves and make them believe that it’s okay to ask for help. Also having these problems doesn’t make you weaker than the rest, that it can actually make you stronger.
The Circus of Life also made the difficult things easier to understand, such as how to battle stress and take care of yourself, or how to not let the little things, that would usually stress you out, get under your skin by thinking positively and growth mindsets. It also made getting to the goals in life simpler and less threatening and intimidating than it usually is. The process of breaking down your goals, I believe, made the thought of getting to your goals less challenging.
This book has also tries to help bullying victims. Bullying is a major problem and The Circus of Life made it a lot easier to, one, understand why this could be happening and two, understand how to deal with it. I truly believe that this book could help a lot of teens who have little to no support, change their lives on their own by taking charge using The Big Top Model.
There are many aspects in this book, which if teens use properly and to the full extent, could relieve them of that feeling of being all alone or weak or any other negative thought they think of themselves. Amazing content and helpful methods; love this!!!
Shreya Ghimire, (Age 13)