You’ll Never Know Happy Unless You Know Sad: The Truthful Review

by Gurpreet Sihat

I always find that the second you discover someone new, they seem to be everywhere! All of a sudden you can’t go on a train, flick through a magazine or newspaper, or even scroll down your social media timeline without seeing them. Were they always there and you’ve only just started to notice? Or is the universe trying to tell you something? 

  • This person is so inspirational, you need to follow them on social media. Honestly, morning motivation will never be the same again!
  • This actor is so incredible, you’ll get pulled right into the screen and forget everything else. Go check out their entire filmography – no two films of theirs are the same!
  • This musician releases such beautiful music you can’t multitask to it. You need to just curl up in bed and listen. Give it your all! 
  • This writer is so talented you can lose yourself for hours in their words. Read more of their books! End of conversation. 

Well, Matt Haig, without a doubt, fell into that last section. My sister bought me his book, Reasons to Stay Alive, for Christmas. Although the name rang a bell, I didn’t really know who Matt Haig was. 

“A small masterpiece that might even save lives,” Joanna Lumley had called it. Stephen Fry had dubbed him “outstanding.” They were enough to have me intrigued. I opened it to a random page – the section where he’s contemplating suicide. No, I decided. Nope, I’m not going to read this. Can’t. Touches a nerve. But I did read it. I devoured every single word. Then I flicked through it again and reread passages. I told my sister all about it, made her promise to get herself a copy, too. I bought a copy for one of my best friends. Lent my copy to another. Matt Haig had touched a nerve and it was the best possible thing for me. 

All of a sudden, I started seeing him everywhere. The ‘follow-on’ from Reasons to Stay AliveNotes on a Nervous Planet was suddenly all over Amazon and Goodreads and every book buying website you can think of. Social media had endless articles about how his novel, How to Stop Time, was being adapted for the screen with Benedict Cumberbatch attached to play the lead role. And this strange buzz about a children’s book. The kind of buzz you don’t hear very often. Actually, I rarely hear it at all. But here was a book for children about… anxiety? About life? About being human?

The book: The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig.

I got sucked in. I bought myself a copy, had it rushed to me so that it would arrive before I left for Scotland. I walked around Edinburgh for all of a day before pulling the book out of my bag and reading it. 

Then I read it again. 

And again. 

The Truth Pixie can only say things that are true, you see. That is her gift. Her curse. Her reality. So, everyone hates her. She’s alone. Until she’s not. Until she finds a little girl that’s just as sad as she is. A little girl who asks for the truth… 

I’m a little nervous to say much more about this book. As a children’s book, it’s short enough for you to read within ten or twenty minutes, and I don’t want to spoil the beauty of it by explaining it to you. What I will say is that it’s almost split into two sections – the first half addresses the great power of words and how they can truly cut deep, and the second half deals with mental health and the struggles that life throws at us. It comes with a third message that we all, no matter our age, need to hear: while there will always be dark times, there are beautiful times of joy and happiness that are coming, too. There will be moments when life feels unbearable, when we want to give up, but there are wonderful moments filled with light and love and laughter on the other side of it. 

I’m not ashamed to say the book brought me to tears. It’s a book that reaches the child within all of us, no matter our age. The rhyming couplets fill us with joy, the illustrations laughter and the messages with that, often much needed, reminder that we are exactly who and where we are meant to be. And although it’s advertised as a Christmas book, it is, without a doubt, a book for the entire year. 

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