Book Review: Emerging From the Dark
Reviewed by Toni Woodruff
What can you gain after losing so much? Stroke survivors share inspiring stories and wisdom in this beautifully illustrated book on mental and physical health.
Terence Ang follows up his illustrated memoir, A Cry in the Dark, with this inspirational and unique guide for navigating mental health struggles after suffering a stroke.
This book is as much an opportunity to appreciate art and poetry as it is one to help readers understand the everyday effects of having a stroke. Ang illustrates with unbound creativity, often using dark colors splashed onto white backgrounds with Ang’s handwriting scrawled in creative loops and lines. Nearly each page is Instagrammable with memorable and meaningful sayings like, “One step at a time…be willing to begin again” and “I can’t tell you where I’m going, but I think it’s a place worth going to.”
In addition to sharing his own stories, wisdom, pains, and art, he tells the stories of ten others, whether they be stroke survivors themselves or caregivers for stroke survivors. The impact this stroke event causes is monumental, and you can feel it with these well-told personal stories.
The journal-like entries that scatter amongst the stories provide a self-help tone to the book that makes it all the more browsable. Ang shares intimate thoughts, concerns, cares, and insight to his everyday mindset, which can be anything but positive and hopeful. Some days, this really gets to him. By sharing these intimate, not quite so affirming quotes, he allows the reader to bring their own honest baggage and struggles to the reading experience. This would be a good choice for those who have suffered a stroke and are looking for not only wisdom, but camaraderie, in their now relevant reading material.
Most of the time, these quotes and journal entries are sharp and sensitive and hit hard. The book is a treat to flip through considering just how visual (and meaningful) the wisdom always is. As happens in self-help collections like these, some of the pieces are stronger than others. There can be a moment here and there where the subtlety of the imagery is removed or the succinctness of the phrase is lost.
Emerging from the Dark has lots to offer for a lot of different audiences. General audiences will ooh-and-ahh at the art and poetry and feel ounces of the pain that he and the other survivors must have felt, but it’s clear the best audience for this one is the stroke survivor. The one who’s looking for guidance, love, and understanding in what right now feels like darkness.
Genre: Nonfiction / Physical & Mental Health / Motivational
Print Length: 192 pages
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