Book Review: All My Friends Are Invisible by Jonathan Joly

Professional ReaderDisclaimer: I was provided this book for free by Netgalley for an honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Blurb

A mesmeric, harrowing and uplifting childhood memoir that will open up much-needed conversations about identity and mental health*

‘This will blow you away’- Stylist

An extraordinary and thought-provoking memoir’ – Belfast Telegraph

‘Gives hope and community for all those who have ever felt “other”, and proves how vital it is to provide children with the safe space to be themselves’ – Irish Examiner

It was an ordinary day in 2016. In Gatwick Airport, Jonathan and his wife Anna were having breakfast with their two little children while waiting for their flight to be called. And then it happened, a familiar sensation that Jonathan hadn’t had for decades: an out-of-body experience that transported him to another place, the safe place he used to escape to in his mind when he was a boy.

Because growing up in conservative 1980s Dublin, where there was little tolerance for children who were ‘different’, Jonathan Joly was, indeed, a different sort of child: creative, expressive, and – on the inside – a girl. The limitations of the people around him to understand his differences led to years of tyrannical bullying and abuse, forcing him to withdraw within himself to the point of clinical absence. His only chance for survival was the inner world he created for himself, rich with loving and supportive friends and playmates, that only he could see. Jonathan’s invisible friends were his lifeline, and on that day at the airport, they came flooding back, and have remained with him to this day.

This extraordinary childhood memoir is not only an important, thought-provoking and exhilarating read, it gives hope and community for all those who have ever felt ‘other’, and proves how vital it is to provide children with the safe space to be themselves.

In All My Friends are Invisible, Jonathan Joly, known widely as one of social media’s most successful content creators, shares the secret he’s kept hidden these many years. He shows the beautiful world he retreated to time and time again when life was unbearable for his ‘skin machine’. Most importantly, he introduces us to his invisible friends, and in so doing you may be transported back to the friends you had as a child that no one else could see, and who may have saved you, too.

“When you find yourself living in a world that doesn’t understand you, and you lack any connection to anyone or any place, you are faced with few options. You can choose to leave this world and hope whatever lies beyond ends up being better, or you can create your own. It will require grit, hardship, pain and suffering, but the rewards will be great, and the journey will be greater, and the adventures will be endless. So, at a very young age and faced with these options, I chose the latter.”

All My Friends are Invisible will be one of the most talked about books of 2022.

Blurb captured from Amazon

My Review

After seeing the build up to the release of this book through Jonathan’s social media I was looking forward to and was also intrigued to read All My Friends are Invisible. The book is centred around the author’s struggles during his childhood. I believe the audience for this book could be quite broad such as those who have followed the Saccone Joly family on YouTube as well as those intrigued by the build up to the release of the book alternatively the book could appeal to people who can relate to what Jonathan has been through.

In my opinion All My Friends Are Invisible is aimed at a mature audience due to the mental health and suicide themes.

The book itself is written in the first person from Jonathan Joly’s point of view. If you have been a follower of the family for a while you can read the story in his voice. The story can feel almost erratic in it’s flow at times however in my opinion this demonstrates the trauma of his childhood.

The reader will meet several characters in this book from Jonathan’s family to his invisible friend Giselle. The way that the character’s are introduced and the book is written you can almost see the book in black and white until Giselle is introduced and fades in and out of colour as and when she appears.

I think Jonathan does a good job of translating his childhood experience into a book which other people can read and bringing the invisible friends to life in a way that other people can relate to them.

It is upsetting to read what Jonathan went through during his childhood however it is incredible to see the conversations this book is opening up.

Personally I would like to see another book released to see how Jonathan’s life progressed as there is clearly more to add to his experiences in life and I think there is a lot that can be learned from his story.

We are all very quick to judge other people but All My Friends Are Invisible just goes to show that what you see on the outside isn’t always what is going on in the inside.

All My Friends Are Invisible brings out a lot of raw emotion and has a completely different dynamic to any other ‘memoir’/ ‘autobiographic’ style book that I have read. The way that Jonathan has written this book brings a freshness and unique angle to this genre that I would happily read more by Jonathan if he was to release further books.

I would recommend this book but only if you can read it with an open mind.

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