Recovery in the Media: #44. . . .And She Sparkled

One of the best picture books I have read, this tells the story of a child being forced to grow up but stay unique.

One of the best picture books I have read, this tells the story of a child being forced to grow up but stay unique.

44. . . . And She Sparkled by Joan Steffend

Browsing in a cute little shop, I saw this book on the shelf. For some reason, the plush front with a simplistic but mesmorizing silver design appealed to me. The connection to my life was instant as I read the picture book. Right then, I was in residential treatment and struggling to want recovery. Staying a safe child or sick patient seemed much better than growing up in a frightening and uncertain world. Thus, this book played an important role in reminding me of who I was under all of my pain and healing that inner child. It might be a picture book, but . . . And She Sparkled has a deep message about recovery.

Synopsis: This book tells the story of a little girl who sparkles. Joy follows her as she brings beauty and light into the world. Each day, she dreams of the next one with excitement and anticipation. However, her dance falters as difficulties begin to come into her innocent life. Others start telling her to be quieter, more sensible, and less childish. In an attempt to be good, she locks up the sparkle inside of her and hides it from the world. Darkness increases as she struggles to live each day the way people say she should. The sparkle waits inside, hoping to shine once again.

Recovery Pluses: “That sounds like the story of your life,” my mother said when I told her about the book. It does describe the process of recovery for many people. Young girls and boys born with joy and brightness lose it as they grow older. Bullying, perfectionism, mental illness, and other stresses drain many children of that special sparkle. Depression descends as they conform to the standards of others and forget their own worth and beauty. This is the sad but common story of many people I have met.

Yet this book does not end hopeless (spoiler alert, I know). Instead, it reminds us that the sparkle is still inside. As one progresses in recovery, they begin to let that childhood joy and uniqueness back into their life. People may judge and the struggle will continue, but that does not stop us. Continuing to push forward will bring us to a better, happier, and more fulfilling future.

Cautions: There is nothing objectionable, triggering, or controversial in this book. Children and adults will all enjoy this story although it might impact those who have grown up more.

Reading . . . And She Sparkled still makes me tear up although I look at the book numerous times. The simple but powerful message touches the child inside of me as well as the woman I have become. This is a poignant look at recovery, growing up, and choosing to be unique instead of conforming. I encourage you to read this story and think about your own journey or that of a loved one. Hopefully it will touch you and help you to find the sparkle inside yourself and others.

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