If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For
By Jamie Tworkowski
Jamie Tworkowski created To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) in response to his encounter with a friend who was struggling with addiction and depression. The initial experience in 2006 spawned a youth movement, which spread through online communities, concerts and t-shirts which featured catchy and poetic slogans. The presence continued to grow in North America largely through social media and booths on Vans Warped Tour, becoming an official non-profit in 2011. Their goal is to help people who are struggling with addiction, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and offer them a way out through this community.
In his first book, Tworkowski collects thoughts that he has been writing since 2005, when To Write Love on Her Arms was still nothing more than an emotion contained within the heart of a single man. The introduction of Renee Yohe, whose story would become the namesake of the non-profit. The stories are compiled in a way that offers insight into the growth of the organization, from the end of a relationship that featured a diamond ring to reflections on Father’s Day. Much of his story features music and it is present here. Through the years support has come from members of groups such as Switchfoot, Paramore, Thrice as well as actors like Kat Dennings, Miley Cyrus and Joaquin Phoenix. There are mentions of songs and artists sprinkled throughout. The stories are simple, more of a glimpse into the personal journal of a young man searching for his place in the world than an encyclopedic account. There are letters to friends, letters to himself and simple reflections on important events.
Those who are familiar with TWLOHA will have an idea of what to expect from this book. It is intensely personal and emotional, like you are hearing Tworkowski’s deepest thoughts. There is a Christian perspective blended into the story, but like TWLOHA itself, it is not heavy handed and shouldn’t take away from the overall intent. There are those of us out there who feel too much and this book is here to remind you that even during the darkest days, you are never truly alone. It is a beacon of hope in a dark world and those who are lost or who have faced recovery can find something important here. It is not a self-help book per se, but rather an intimate look at someone who has helped to spearhead a movement and a great introduction to TWLOHA for newcomers. (Dustin Blumhagen)