"I am a survivor. A survivor still struggling and still suffering from more than one damaging hit to my soul, but still a survivor."

The teenage author of this memoir writes a mixture of prose, poetry, and a blend of the two in describing her day-to-day life as well as the salient events that led to her becoming who she is today. Phi survives depression, childhood sexual abuse, PTSD, and a suicide attempt but does not let these events define her. She compartmentalizes her mental health issues and her family’s struggles as she tries to live a normal high school life.

Phi was never able to keep a diary as a child, but this memoir still serves as a record of her life and development. Chapter topics range from mundane lunch-table conversations to heartbreaking accounts of despair to Phi’s soaring triumphs over her circumstances. Throughout the book, she also examines her sexual and gender identity, grapples with teenage social norms and making friends, and struggles with the expectations of her Vietnamese-American family. All the time, she harbors a secret that is eating away at her mental health. Phi hides her depression and history of sexual abuse until it is almost too late for her to receive help.

Despite the dark moments in this memoir, there is also much beauty. As Phi says to a friend, “Being aromantic, I feel platonic love more deeply.” This is evident in Phi’s loving odes to friendship and the importance she places on the people in her life. In addition to seeking professional help for her mental health issues, the author relies on the restorative power of writing. When the author refuses to cover up her scars, she says it is because they serve as markers to show how she has grown. Throughout this memoir, Phi illustrates again and again the many ways she has grown as a person, as a survivor, and as a writer.

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