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Mum in a Mess by Sanjana Kapur 

Mum in a Mess by Sanjana Kapur (hOle books, Penguin) is an illustrious addition to the much loved “hOle books”. This chapter book starts gently with an incident- Vishi’s mum has dropped a coffee jar on the floor. In itself this is no big deal, but then she starts behaving very strangely. Why won’t Mum let anyone clean the mess? 

The story is told from the perspective of the 8-year old child. Vishi has always seen her mum be on top of things. It’s as if mum always knows what to do and when to do it. What can Vishi then make of this strange behaviour? It is not an easy task to grapple with the uncertainty of this behaviour.

The story subtly leads us onto how the family comes to terms with the fact that something is not ‘normal’ in the sense that it’s not usual. Something is different. Vishi’s mother has an episode, a meltdown. What does it look like? How can a family hold space for an individual who experiences an emotional concern? The illustrations by Proiti Roy complement the text beautifully, as the reader navigates this unsure territory while reading.

The concerned and empathic father sets a veritable example of how a family member can support someone going through a mental health concern. The character of Jahan, Vishi’s friend also demonstrates how friends, no matter how young,  can create  a  safe and non judgemental environment. 

Mum in a Mess by Sanjana Kapur is a heartwarming account of how talking about an emotional and mental health concern can be approached in a mature and sensitive manner. 

Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a Counselling Psychologist and a freelance writer. She is the Founder of Bookedforlife.