Tuesday, March 24, 2015

'Panther' by David Owen


Life isn’t going terribly well for Derrick; he’s become severely overweight, his only friend has turned on him, he’s hopelessly in love with a girl way out of his league, and it’s all because of his sister. Her depression, and its grip on his family, is tearing his life apart. When rumours start to circulate that a panther is roaming wild in his south London suburb, Derrick resolves to try and capture it. Surely if he can find a way to tame this beast, he’ll be able to stop everything at home from spiraling towards disaster?

Panther is a bold and emotionally powerful novel that deals candidly with the effects of depression on those who suffer from it, and those who suffer alongside them.

Note: This book really affected me. And I'll reveal more about myself than I ever have before. I hope my truth doesn't deter you, dear readers. Thank you for reading. 

Derrick is someone I related to. I am someone who is conscious of everything I do. My weight is always with me. I can't stand my weight. (The fact is that I'm at a perfectly normal weight.) I preach the importance of not judging yourself. I'm such a hypocrite. I had a certain connection with Derrick. There are things we have in common. If I let go and forgot my restrictions, I would wear a XXL. Why? I can't help but eat at times. This is similar to what Derrick goes through. He controls the uncontrollable by eating. It's the only way he can control his life. Which is quite fascinating. Control is only in your mind. Control isn't actually there. Unless we're talking about controlling other organisms. It's the thought of control. The thought that you MIGHT have control. 
With the shit happening in his life, there is a reason Derrick needs control. I can see that. 
And as he spirals downwards, you feel the madness attacking you. You feel it crawling on your skin. The thoughts of the Beast. The obsession with his 'love'. (That was actually really creepy.) He was obsessed. I feel that this reflects his inner demons and their war on his mind. It definitely shows something is wrong. I hate to agree with Tamoor...but it did look like Derrick was going crazy. I'm not sure why. Stress? Ridicule? I don't know. But I know you can't always explain everything. 
Derrick is fascinating. We don't see much of his life from before everything happened. I know this, though. He was very different. Physically. Mentally. Things really spiraled downwards for him. 

And the metaphor with the Beast. Gah. That was beautiful. Truly.
I loved it. It really gave tangible form to depression. You could swallow it easier.
The Beast is a hunter. It pounces on its next victim. It consumes your mind. You have to catch it, throw it out. It is the perfect metaphor. Not just for depression. For the madness within oneself. For the craziness. For the inner turmoil. I loved that. It was amazing. 
Things like depression are hard to understand. They're intangible unlike a tumor. You can't touch it. Medicine doesn't always work. Surgery won't help. (Don't dare suggest lobotomy. That makes things worse.) You don't know how it is unlike it's affected someone you care for or if you have it. It's like a virus floating along. (Gah. Bad simile...) David Owen gave depression a body. A host. Something people could have and hate or want to get rid of in Derrick's case. And it also gives Derrick a chance to become obsessed. (With ridding it/depression from his family.) 
Such a wonderful metaphor. 

The plot...not bad. The beginning is a bit dull, but as the story progresses, you see how much drama this book contains. 
The beginning. A bit boring. It sets the stage. A depressed sister who tried to end her life. A tired mother. A father who left. An overweight main character. All set somewhere in England. (London? I think it's London.) It's near the end of the school year. Summer is coming. We have Derrick who is trying to be in control. And we have him skipping class after an embarrassing recording. (Wow. What was that about? What was he doing? I'm not sure.) We have the scene being set. Not the most interesting thing of all. 
The middle of the book reveals so much more. Derricks starts to spiral. He starts the hunt. He skips even more! The middle is dramatic. But not as dramatic as the end. (That ending...) We see Derrick spiral. It's so sad that he spirals further. 

I was surprised by the ending. Really. I didn't expect it. Wow. Who knew? The story seemed to hint at Derrick NOT gaining self understanding. And that's what I thought. I thought, 'Okay... Not going to end on a high note? Alright. Screw happy endings.' While it would be wrong to say this had a happy ending, I won't say that it was the worst-case scenario.
And how dramatic was this ending? On a scale of one to ten with one being the lowest and ten being the highest, this ending was a fifteen. I've read drama before. Indeed. That's what happens with most contemporary. (Because you can't have too much action in real life.) I was thrown. Everything of importance happens in the ending. Wow. Just wow. I was breathless reading it. Not the good or bad kind of breathless. Just breathless.

David Owen. Thank you for writing about this. This isn't just how depression affects the person with it. This is about his or her family. Friends. Teachers. Classmates. It shows how depression affects everyone.
And the way you wrote it... The way you portrayed depression seemed to echo reality. It was practically real. I feel like this is amazing. Correctly representing something shares the truth. Just writing about it is one thing. Correct representation is another entirely.
Thank you for writing this. 

Sunny with a few clouds

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